Hex

Hex is a modular unit that is pieced together to create a structural system. It is composed of wood and was created through robotic steam bending, as can be seen in the video below. 

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Concept

Contemporary architectural practice is a constant state of techno-flux. The means and methods of contemporary architectural production face mounting ecological imperatives. Hex explores the resourcefulness of wood construction through robotically assisted fabrication. In particular, we investigated robotic steam bending, where a robot’s ability to shape custom framing members and assemble unique parts, is leveraged to construct complex material arrays. 

Hex was inspired by the act of "weaving" fabric. We started our design by weaving different types of geometries in order to reach the optimal shape for our unit to array, and for the robot to bend and weave. We wanted to create a singular unit that can act modular and array infinitely in order to create a strong structural system.  

We found the optimal shape for our basic unit to be a piece with a slit that stretches 2/3 of the way across the wood. From there, we started weaving the unit to create a final 3-piece system that acted as our module. 

 Weaving study #1

Weaving study #1

 Weaving study #3

Weaving study #3

 Full modular unit arrayed

Full modular unit arrayed

 Weaving study #2

Weaving study #2

 Basic unit

Basic unit

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Robotic Steam Bending 

After finishing up prototyping, I built the geometry using Rhino and Grasshopper and proceeded to code the path the robot will take to bend the wood in an arc-like fashion. My partners constructed a system in which to hold the steamed wooden piece in place before and after bending. They also created the claw for the robot that will push down and bend the wooden piece. 

 Mechanism that held the steamed wooden piece down pre and after bending

Mechanism that held the steamed wooden piece down pre and after bending

 Steam tubes where we inserted wood to soften 

Steam tubes where we inserted wood to soften 

 Robot claw!

Robot claw!

 Initial position of robot with our claw

Initial position of robot with our claw

Constructing Hex

 1. Cut each wood piece 2/3 

1. Cut each wood piece 2/3 

 3. Positioning the three units in the corrent places in order to weave and form module

3. Positioning the three units in the corrent places in order to weave and form module

 5. 3-piece weaved unit fastened using metal wires. annnnnd repeat! 

5. 3-piece weaved unit fastened using metal wires. annnnnd repeat! 

 2. Steam wood, robotically bend it, and then fasten it in place to dry 

2. Steam wood, robotically bend it, and then fasten it in place to dry 

 4. Weaving commences

4. Weaving commences

 Weaved units

Weaved units


Hex Structural System

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Tools

Rhino, Grasshopper, ABB Industrial Robots, Rapid Programming Language, Woodworking