Epps tells Humans Invent there are three stages to the process. “We actually start with card and design the shape pretty quickly and get an understanding of the material limitations from the folded card because when we scale that up, the material properties are very similar to metal.”
The second stage is an intermediary one between man and robot as the machines need to be told what to do. For this they use CAD (computer aided design) software.
“We simulate the folding using software called Rhino – we have worked with various software developers to create folding plug-ins and robotic plug-ins so that we can simulate the whole process again.”
The last and most significant part of the process, of course, is the actual folding of the metal by the robots.
The machines they use are exactly the same as those found in car plants: robotic arms with suction pumps that can fold the piece of metal in a completely determined way under orders from the CAD software.
Looking at the delicate, intricate pieces of flowing metal that have been created, you would never have supposed industrial machinery had been near it. At the moment Epps is focusing on making facades and ornamentation but he believes this process could be used for more general architectural purposes in the near future.