Phase Change: Approaching Research Methodologies Through Design Robotics

Opportunities for Customization Through Robotic Manipulation of Materials During Phase Change and Curing Processes
  • Nathan KingEmail author
  • Kadri Tamre
  • Georg Grasser
  • Allison Weiler


This chapter positions ongoing research surrounding robotic manipulation of materials during phase-change and curing conducted by the University or Innsbruck Institute for Experimental Architecture’s REX|LAB within the context of Design Robotics, a research paradigm established by the Design Robotics Group at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The goal of this analysis is the identification of key research principles and evaluation criteria that can inform future developments toward the low-volume production of polymer-based architectural building components. An overview of industrial plastic-forming techniques is used to identify limitations and opportunities within the associated material systems and the findings used to contextualize examples from ongoing research. A series of strategic next steps are proposed and will be explored during a series of workshop experiments.


Design robotics Material feedback Material processes Synchronized robotic fabrication Design research 



Research support provided by Marjan Colletti, chair of the Institute for Experimental Architecture; Development of synchronous robotic work cell supported in part by ABB-Austria; Research consultation provided by Harvard GSD Design Robotics Group and the Virginia Tech Center for Design Research-CRAFT Group; Automated synchronous robotic programming workflow, HAL, developed by Thibault Schwartz.


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  2. Bechthold M (2013) Design robotics: new strategies for material system research. In: Peters B, Peters T (eds) Inside smart geometry. Wiley, London, pp 254–267Google Scholar
  3. Colletti M (2013) Protorobotic foaming. Archithese 3:54–57Google Scholar
  4. Tamre K, Colletti M, Grasser G, Weiler A (2014) (Fr)Agile Materiality, (to be published in Fabricate 2014 Conference), 14 Feb 2014Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan King
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Kadri Tamre
    • 4
  • Georg Grasser
    • 4
  • Allison Weiler
    • 4
  1. 1.Harvard GSD Design Robotics GroupCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Tech CDR|CRAFTBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Rhode Island School of DesignProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Experimental Architecture REX|LABUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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