Jo McAllister – Looking Outwards-03

A water spider captures an air bubble in a thin web, and then continues to reinforce it’s home by adding stronger strands. This is all underwater:Web_Process01

Intricate and ingenious, the only way to make the web better would be to make it bigger.  In the ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion, researchers, professors, and students did just that.


Placed in a thin membrane held up by inflated air pressure, a robot arm accurately imitates the spider’s webbed pattern. The robot acts as a 3D printer when it lays down the foundational fibers; it follows the coded orders of architects.

With the current growing popularity of 3D printing, that part of the code that pre-plans the design is only average. A groundbreaking program would make the robot figure out how to build this structure from scratch. The creators of the spider-like robot took an admirable step towards this future. While the robot finishes the foundations, a sensor on the arm inputs how the membrane has deformed, so the robot can adapt appropriately. Variables are changed to accurately calculate the best way to build off of the unpredictable new shapes.

[©(c)Roland Halbe; Veroeffentlichung nur gegen Honorar, Urhebervermerk und Beleg / Copyrightpermission required for reproduction, Photocredit: Roland Halbe]

The team members of this project unveil new ways to make stable, awe-inspiring structures.