Researchers at ETH Zurich, in collaboration with Erne AG Holzbau, have developed a new timber framing method using robots as well as humans working together to complete the build. The robotic portion consists of a pair of industrial robot arms on a gigantic gantry. One of these arms first places a length of timber on a saw to be cut to length, the other robot drills — or perhaps more accurately CNC-routes — the needed holes. These specially-cut timbers are then put into place using both arms in tandem, while a human is tasked with actually fastening it into place.
Besides possible speed advantages, the interesting thing about this type of construction method is that timbers can be placed in unique geometries not normally seen in traditional framing. This allows structures to maintain rigidity though their geometry, eliminating the need for reinforcement plates, thus saving resources.
While the idea might appear to like something that could take place far in the future, plans are already in place to construct pre-fab timber modules using these methods. These modules will then be assembled into a two-story residential unit with more than 100 square meters of floor space. Maybe best of all, the framing will be visible behind a transparent facade when finished, enabling people to see this unique construction method in use!
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Author: Jeremy S. Cook