KUKA|prc User Spotlight: Artis Engineering

KUKA|prc User Spotlight: Artis Engineering


The community of “creative” robot users is constantly growing, with an increasing number of artists, architects, designers, artisans, makers, and other enthusiasts working with robotic arms. However, there are also larger firms that do not see robotic arms just as a means for production, but as an evolving, multifunctional system that requires research – and the occasional “artistic” application. Therefore, for this KUKA|prc user spotlight we would like to present Artis Engineering, who have been involved in the community since the first Rob|Arch conference in Vienna, 2012. They’re using KUKA|prc and Grasshopper to solve specialized problems that are not covered by industry-standard software.

For the most recent Rob|Arch conference that took place in Michigan a few months ago, Simon Lullin of Artis submitted a video showcasing one of their side-projects. Here’s what Simon has to say about it:

In the following we would like to present a new project which gives us the possibility to program our robot parametrically, with simplicity, by producing an oversized vinyl. To create something comparable to this disc, we came up with a custom made turn-table, and a 7 axis robot. This machine named “KUKA Quantec Ultra” has a range of 3100 mm and a payload of more than 200 kg. This robot is installed upside down on a 10 meter linear rail. The producing firm, named Artis GmbH, is a German partnership, woodworking and engineering company, based in Berlin.

The programming process was completed entirely by means of Grasshopper and plugins such as KUKA|prc, Kangaroo and Firefly. The idea was to record any kind of sound in order to transcribe it on to something physical that we could keep. Initially the programming consisted of a sound recording (in this specific case: the Awolnation song). By processing this sound we generated a curve by extracting peak levels (the loudest frequency level at a given moment). Once the curve is created, the outward movement of the arm can be calculated by means of logarithmic.

Synchronizing the robot movement with beats per minute is something machines are not supposed to be able to do. A wide movement obviously would need more time than a small one; but the previously extracted curve, basically made instantaneous jumps in-between two points. This would require an acceleration that the machine cannot cope with. From there on, we decided to slow down the milling process, mainly by extending the latency of the machine between two almost similar points, so that the trajectory wave could be respected as accurately as possible.

Finally, carrying out the milling process was very simple. The tool started its path at a distance of 100 mm from the center; from there it moved outwards. The turn-table’s rotation slowed down progressively (the table’s peripheral speed had to be maintained proportionally to the distance in-between the rotation center and the tool) in order to allow the movement of the table to correlate with the tool.

We are proud of getting closer to the solution of manufacturing this new product…a robotic arm working together with this unique turn-table…certainly an alternative way to listen to music:

You are watching the birth of music.

Already in 2012 Artis showed their work at Rob|Arch in Vienna. Here’s the video:

What’s especially interesting about Artis’ robot setup is that they’ve got a 1.2 ton robot on a ceiling-mounted linear axis, keeping the entire floor clear and giving them a huge workspace. Enthusiasts will acknowledge the engineering that goes into such a solution, while everyone else will also appreciate a machine that weighs as much as a car, hangs from the ceiling, and moves at 5 m/sec (A1 turning at 105deg/sec at 3100mm radius).
Below you can find a photo-gallery showcasing a few more of Artis’ robotic projects. For more information, go to their homepage at www.artisengineering.de or visit Artis when they celebrate their 20th anniversary at the end of October.

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All images are (c) Artis, 2014. Used with kind permission.