Robotics and the Arts at Zayed University

19 Dec 2018


Zayed University’s College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, CACE, have incorporated state-of-the-art technologies, providing students with innovative education techniques. CACE’s Fabrication Lab at ZU’s Dubai campus was established in 2016, equipped with an additive (3D printer) as well as subtractive (laser cutter) tools for digital manufacturing.

‘KR AGILUS’, the compact subtractive robot, is designed for high working speeds, achieving precision via an integrated energy supply system and service-proven KR C4 compact controller, allowing for students to create art and digital manufacturing via innovative automation concepts.

The robot combines ‘additive’ and ‘subtractive’ processes – adding or taking away through various cutting tools and cutters – allowing innovative technology to fill in for manual tools used by traditional art techniques.

CACE faculty Professor Thorsten Lomker explained that the 8-axis robot for digital fabrication and robotic machining was introduced as part of the tools for creative practice and research at CACE.

Lomker designed the machines in conjunction with German systems integration, Robot Machining. The KR Agilus robot, manufactured by KUKA in Germany, sits in a 2.6m x 1.6m x1.4m secure glass cell, where it operates on six internal and two external axes.

It has a high-speed spindle for milling operations, as well as various end-effectors (like a hand) such as grippers, vacuum grippers, and hot wire cutters. The machine weighs 3.5 tons to withstand the forces of the robotic movement.

The Fabrication Lab is an example of the cutting-edge technology utilised at Zayed University to create innovative teaching and a learning environment for university students.

Encouraging students to come with fresh ideas and move away from the status quo is a significant reason behind developing the lab, explained Lomker, adding that new technologies enable the students to create via different methods, moving away from manual techniques.

He said that CACE aims to prepare a new generation of creative thinkers; graduates who are leaders and innovators in the field and who will be employed not only n the growing art and design sector, but in other industries employing innovative technologies in their work processes.

Using conceptual approaches in teaching and learning, the Fabrication Lab adds new opportunities for crafting techniques in the 21st century. The Zayed University lab aims to be a prime platform for producing cutting-edge art and design, contributing to the UAE’s economy and knowledge building agendas.

Source: WAM