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Robots Weave a Carbon Fiber Forest in London

Experimental materials inspired by beetle wings make art at the V&A Museum.

by Beckett Mufson
May 18 2016, 5:10pm

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A high-tech robot is spinning an insect-inspired installation in the Victoria and Albert Museum's courtyard. The Elytra Filament Pavilion is a canopy of 40 tree-like hexagons made from transparent glass fibers and black carbon fibers woven by an industrual robotic arm. Inspired by the wings of the elytra beetle, a team from the University of Stuttgart developed a process for weaving fibers around a metal frame and curing them to get ultralight structures. Each piece in the 650 sq. ft. installation weighs just under 100 pounds.

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Elytra Filament Pavilion will continue to grow until it closes on November 6, an on-site robotic arm demonstrating the intricate weaving process developed by architect and researcher Achim Menges, architect Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer. No two visits will be the same, as the arm, like an ever-industrious spider, weaves new hexagons for the carbon fiber forest.

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This is the same team that built a spider web-like pavilion in Germany in 2014. The Elytra Filament Pavilion is latest in a series of experimental structures and pavilions using ultralight materials. Their work is part of the V&A Museum's Engineering Season, a series of installations, exhibitions, and talks examining the crossroads between engineering and art. See how The Elytra Filament Pavilion is coming along in the images below.

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Close up view of Elytra Filament Pavilion glass and carbon fibre cells, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Comparison of internal elytron architecture in flying and flightless beetle, © Dr.Thomas van de Kamp, Prof. Dr. Hartmut Greven

Learn more about The Elytra Pavilion here, and check out more from the University of Stuttgart here.

Related:

Robots Weave A Hive-Like Pavilion In Germany

Giant Robot Arm Creates 3D Light Paintings

This Advanced Robotic Arm Will Carve Your Designs Out of Foam

Tagged:
London
robotics
Creators
beetles
biomimicry
University of Stuttgart
V&A Museum
weaving
victoria and albert museum
Elytra Filament Pavilion
carbon fiber