Adaptive Part Variation

A Near Real-Time Approach to Construction Tolerances
  • Lauren VaseyEmail author
  • Iain Maxwell
  • Dave Pigram


This chapter introduces the concept of Adaptive Part Variation (APV) as a method where robotically automated fabrication and construction processes employ sensors and feedback to make real-time corrections to material and assembly processes by varying the geometry and location of future parts to respond to deviations between digitally defined and physically accumulating form. The potential disciplinary implications of the method are described followed by a comparison to existing approaches to providing tolerance for dimension error in architecture. As a case study, the material system of cold bending steel rod is utilized to investigate strategies for implementing Adaptive Part Variation within a fabrication workflow that includes the production, handling, and assembly of uniquely bent parts through synchronized robotic tasks and iterative sensor feedback. Two computer vision systems are compared to assess their value for APV processes. Finally, potential shifts in the deployment of procedural design methodologies are discussed in relation to adaptive automated construction processes.


Robotic fabrication Formation embedded design Digital fabrication Robotic manipulation Computer vision systems Construction tolerances File-to-factory 



The authors are incredibly grateful to Dean Monica Ponce de Leon, for establishing and continually supporting robotics research in the FABLab at the University of Michigan as well to FABLab Director Wes McGee for his continued collaboration. In addition, to FABLab Coordinator Aaron Willette for assistance and input with the paper. Significant feasibility studies were conducted by current students at the University of Michigan, Zac Potts and Andrew Pries.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.University of TechnologySydneyAustralia

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