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LightVault arch built by robots at Princeton » 3dpbm

Yes, we write about 3D printing but we are by no means obligated to only write about 3D printing. We can just as easily cover competing, synergistic or similar technological approaches. Especially when they are as fascinating as the LightVault created by Princeton researchers using robots to deposit glass bricks. And who’s to say that bricklaying is not an additive process anyways?

Two Princeton researchers, architect Stefana Parascho and engineer Sigrid Adriaenssens, used the robots to demonstrate how to simplify construction, even when building complex forms. “We want to use robots to build beautiful architecture more sustainably,” said Adriaenssens, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and the director of the Form Finding Lab.

The final, full-scale glass LightVault is displayed at the “Anatomy of Structure: The Future of Art & Architecture” exhibition in London. Photo by CREATE Laboratory, Isla Xi Han & Edvard Bruun

The professors partnered with architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to create a striking and unique installation for the SOM exhibition “Anatomy of Structure” in London last March. They used two industrial robots provided by UK-based Global Robots to build a breathtaking vault, 7 feet tall, 12 feet across and 21 feet long, constructed of 338 transparent glass bricks from Poesia Glass Studio.

Much like 3D printed structures, the LightVault reduced resource use in two ways: eliminating the need for forms or scaffolding during construction. It also improved the vault’s structural efficiency by making it doubly curved, which reduced the amount of material required. These were only possible because of the robots’ strength and precision. Such curved structures are not yet possible by using 3D printing (and neither is the use of glass – yet) however a combination of approaches may be possible in the future with collaborating robots applying different technologies and materials.

You can read about the entire project description here.

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