Robotic wheeling

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Project Details

Professional project- Summer 2017 ZAHNER R&D INTERNSHIP Elena Vazquez (Visiting Researcher) and James Coleman (R&D lead engineer)

THE CHALLENGE

Creating single curvature into sheet metal is easy — like rolling a piece of paper into a tube — but double curvature presents significant challenges in manufacturing.

The English Wheel allows artisans to create double curves by hand working metal sheets between two radiused wheels. The tool is best known for its use in creating bespoke car parts. Mastering use of the English Wheel is an art form, requiring a keen sense of touch and depth of material expertise. The curves achieved are precise and graceful, but producing bespoke panels in this islabour intensive and expensive.

A single building might contain several thousand uniquely shaped panels, making conventional wheeling impossible. Yet, the machine itself is simply constructed and economical way. We wondered: Might we offset the costs of doubly curved surfaces with a fresh take on the English wheel, combining the precise motion and force control of robotics with this tried and true method for shaping metal?

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