The IDC Kuka HA-100 Robot is initially being used to demonstrate a versatile new fabrication methodology for building houses that looks to deploying thermoplastic composite paneling to allow non-standard yet low-cost housing.
The thermoplastic paneling methodology marks a breakthrough in offering the economy of a continuous-feed process with the technical advantages offered by composites (ie it attains an economy of scale that is uncommon in the more typical one-off mold logics of thermoset technologies). The thermoplastic process also avoids locking up the resin with a catalytic hardening agent, relying on heat to meld pure polypropylene and glass fiber fabrics under heat and pressure, offering full recyclability, so it is remarkably ‘green’ (as independent studies from a group at Stanford University has shown).
The panels consolidate two skins of thermoplastic fabric either side of a core material (which can be varied in thickness and material), offering a highly resilient composite paneling system. The research looks to milling these basic panels to provide structural and weatherproof connections, looking to build highly resilient thin-skin building envelopes that are simply snapped together by unskilled labor.