It’s great when you find an object that is exactly what you have been looking for, isn’t it? When someone has designed and made something just how you had imagined it in your head. It doesn’t happen too often though, and often compromises are made. The designer-manufacturer-retailer-customer chain is becoming an increasingly outdated model, but the end user still remains at the end of an involved process, causing something of a disconnect between them and the product.
Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram see things happening differently in the future. The designers envision a direct interface between customer and manufacturing process, meaning anyone can become a designer and have exactly what they want fabricated by increasingly adaptable machines. The pair’s experiments with robotic manufacture has led them to launch their second interactive project, ROBOCHOP, which brings the designer (you and me) together with a production robot through a 3D modelling app.
The premise is simple. Start with a foam cube, shape it how you like using the ROBOCHOP software, and then upload your design. One of four robots that make up a “global workbench” then pick up a cube in the real world, and produce the design by manipulating the cube over a hot wire implement. Not all the uploaded designs will be chosen, but those that are will be made and sent to their designer free of charge. The project is happening from 16 to 20 March in the CODE_n section of CeBit 2015 in Hanover — that’s where the four KUKA robots will be making the 40cm cubes, and Weisshaar and Kram expect to produce 2,000 of them during the event. You can have a bash at designing your cube in person at CODE_n, or use the online app on the ROBOCHOP website.