Scottish university probes robotic fabrication of timber homes

Researchers from Scotland’s Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) are probing the robotic fabrication of a cross-laminated timber (CLT) joint, with a view to priming a new market in on-demand prefabricated homes.

They say robotic off-site fabrication would help industrialise house-building.

The project is a collaboration among RGU’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and timber engineering firm, Glulam Solutions.

"This proof-of-concept research project will look at process of designing a simple timber prototype house to address pressing market needs within Scotland and the UK," said Theo Dounas, learning excellence leader at RGU, in a statement today.

"The innovation lies with the integration of a house design prototype and its robotic fabrication out of complex CLT panels manufactured off-site.

"At the end of the project, we envision that the consumer, the house buyer, will be able to select various options from a website and then we will be able to produce all components based on consumer demand."

He said the plan was to develop a range of solutions, from logistics and design to the real testing of CLT joints, and the formation of insulated composite panels.

"We plan to develop a family of houses and other buildings using the technology developed through the project," he said.

Syd Birnie, managing director of Glulam Solutions, said: "This is our very first project linking an academic concept to our commercial approach and it’s an exciting prospect getting the chance to use CSIC’s robotic facilities."

Image: A robot at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (Andy Buchanan)

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