Jeff MAESHIRO, Mary SEK, & Jia WU: Geoweaver is the world’s first walking 3-D printer, prototyped and designed by three architecture students with no previous robotics knowledge in the Creative Architecture Machines advanced options studio at the California College of the Arts, taught by Jason Kelly Johnson of Future Cities Lab and Michael Shiloh.
The hexapod robot type was chosen for its skill at traversing unstable terrains with smooth precision. Two servomotors actuate each leg while another pair moves the print head gantry as a continuous servo feeds thermoplastic through a heated extrusion nozzle. The servos receive instructions from an Arduino microcontroller, which in turn receives commands from Firefly, a plug-in to the Grasshopper component of Rhino. A Webcam mounted above the print bed provides machine-vision to track Geoweaver’s trajectory via a reacTIVision fiducial marker, allowing users to calibrate the accuracy of Geoweaver’s movements with a digital model.
Geoweaver encompasses research in varied directions: animal gait patterns; digital/physical feedback design loops; and thermodynamic material construction properties/processes. Put simply, this project explores the fabrication potentials of an ambulatory, auto-locating 3-D printer. This tool’s capability of printing objects and patterns across a vast area on both flat and uneven terrains allowed us to manipulate printed outcomes by adapting print paths to digital constraints.
A building-scale Geoweaver could bring satellite-level intelligence to actors on the ground. Translating real-time data sets into real-world parameters, this robotic fabricator could incorporate weather patterns, soil movements, topographies, water sources, and other local conditions into its prints. Geoweaver would eventually put down the infrastructure for future settlements, such as geotextiles, water catchment units, and storage facilities—one day laying out entirely new kinds of cities with digital precision.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
JM, MS, & JW: Alex Woodhouse and Leah Zaldumbide’s Driftbot, IAAC’s Stone Spray Robot, SCI-Arc’s Robot House, and Bot & Dolly.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
JM, MS, & JW: Reading: Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines and Steven Johnson, Emergence. Listening to: Royksopp, Bassnectar, and Ellie Goulding. Watching:Breaking Bad and This Is the End.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
JM, MS, & JW: Future Cities Lab, Faulders Studio, and Matsys.
Additional credits and links:
[instructions on how to build Geoweaver]