Robot in action at Autodesk Build Space, constructing Benedikt's Masterthesis

Augmented Design Manufacturing

ITECH – Integrated Technology and Design Research Prof. Achim Menges (ICD), Prof. Jan Knippers (ITKE), L. Vasey & B. Felbrich University of Stuttgart
Benedikt Wannemacher, Master Thesis

The aim of this thesis is to explores how planners can design and fabricate while evaluating spontaneously and intuitively. New technologies like augmented reality headsets, real-time motion tracking and advanced robotic path planning minimize the planning time for the fabrication to an amount where it is possible to integrate it into the fabrication itself. Such a coherent design/fabrication process is what we call Augmented Design Manufacturing.

While robotic arms are already state of the art in contemporary fabrication processes (e.g. in the car industry), controlling these machines is complex, time consuming and not intuitive. This leads to rationalized design results even though the technology allows more creative freedom and flexibility. An Augmented Reality head mounted display overlaying the physical world with additional information that assist the user during the fabrication process. The abstraction between time and space is being abolished – the design spaces becomes the fabrication space and classical workflows can be entirely rethought!

There are many reasons why such a shift to an Augmented Design Manufacturing process will be relevant for future developments in the building industry: Minimizing the planning time, using scalable computer power and the assistance of computer technology for fabrication optimizations combined with the cognitive skills of the human worker. This technology allows furthermore the return of complex material systems that have been almost erased due to the incapability of drawing its material properties.

We see big potentials in the Augmenting Design Manufacturing for enhanced user engagement and participatory planning processes starting on the construction level. The information coming from different urban scales and directions can be automatically embedded into restrictions and option spaces for the fabrication of the end user and vice versa. The intuitive and easy access to advanced planning tools and robotic fabrication results in a democratization of co-creating our built environment. The overall goal is to have a consistent digital workflow and information chain, where every step informs the next one.

Thanks to Autodesk Build Space Boston, whose Robot is shown in the animation above!