A pavilion based on moth webs made by drones and robots

Glass and carbon fibre reinforced composites are lightweight and have high tensile strength. This is why they are widely used in automotive and aerospace industries. However, they haven’t been embraced yet in the architectural world, despite the potential of the material. Now, researchers at the University of Stuttgart (DE) have made a pavilion in which they explored the potential of building-scale fabrication of carbon and glass reinforced composites. The pavilion, which was inspired by the silk ‘hammocks’ spun by the larvae of leaf miner moths, was built using drones and robots.

Like the moth webs, the pavilion is made from one continuous thread. The aim of the project was to develop a fibre winding technique over a longer span, which reduces the required formwork to a minimum whilst taking advantage of the structural performance of continuous filament.

Creating a long span structure was made using multiple robotic systems to create a seamless fibre laying process. A fibre was passed between multiple machines to ensure a continuous material structure.  Two stationary industrial robotic arms with the strength and precision necessary for fibre winding work were placed at the extremities of the structure, while an autonomous, long range but less precise fibre transportation system is utilised to pass the fibre from one side to the other.

The structure itself consists of a cantilever with an overall length of 12 metres (38 feet), which is wrapped in 184 kilometres (114 miles) of resin-impregnated glass and carbon fibre, weighing 1000 kilograms (2204 pounds). The prototypical pavilion is a proof-of-concept for scalable fabrication processes of long-span, fibre composite structural elements, suitable for architectural applications.

For other constructions built using robots at Materia, see here, here, and here.

Photos: Burggraf / Reichert / Laurian Ghinitoiu