What do you get when you combine the art of origami, metal fabrication and an articulate robotic arm? Artful folded metal sheets that would surely amaze you!
RoboFold, a London-based design consultancy, has opened up new possibilities for architectural and furniture design. With the use of ABB IRB 6400 industrial robots, RoboFold is able to help designers explore new ways of bending and forming metals. The robots gently bends the sheets into shapes that are hard to achieve through conventional methods.
“I firmly believe that there are no limitations in design or in the possibilities of turning a design into a real-life object,” explains Gregory Epps, RoboFold proprietor.
“My interest in finding new ways to create single piece curved surfaces first started about 17 years ago. In particular, I became very interested in how to develop a system for producing curved folded metal panels. My search for ways to do this is what eventually led me to the ABB robots.”
RoboFold uses a CAD system to develop 3D models, simulate the folds and carry out parametric calculations. The robots, fitted with vacuum cups to hold the metal sheets, do the rest. With this technology, a metal sheet can be bended in an infinite number of ways.
“I firmly believe that robots are for working with people, not replacing them,” concludes Epps. “The future of manufacturing, especially here in the UK, cannot just be about efficiency. It should be about making useful, aesthetically pleasing things using the best tools available.”