Robotically Sewn Wood – digitalFuture 2017, Shanghai

Workshop Result – Photographs by ICD University of Stuttgart

Research Associate Martín Alvarez of the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD), and former ITECH student, Erik Eugenio Martinez, held a workshop on robotic fabrication at Tongji University, Shanghai as a part of Visualizations vs. Materialization, the 2017 edition of the digitalFUTURE annual conference. Every year, more than two hundred students gather to engage with state-of-the-art digital fabrication and computational design tools. ICD’s group focused on the robotic fabrication of wooden shells that are sewn together and built from elastically-bent 3mm plywood, which allows for the construction of complex 3-dimensional shapes from developable surfaces using standard construction materials.

The participants were introduced to a integrative design process where material properties, rigidity, fabrication constraints and forming strategies were taken into account. The aforementioned concepts were explored and built upon with while collectively working on a 1:1 pre-designed material system. This material system also served as a familiarizing experience with the robotic sewing technology. In parallel, the exploration of new material systems was triggered by the introduction of textile patterning techniques with the goal of producing sequential rigid free-standing structures. Students developed concepts for the creation of new material systems individually and then merged into groups to be able to tackle the proliferation of their ideas into large complex-shaped structures as well as the construction of 1:1 unit prototypes with the corresponding material calibrations.


ICD Institute for Computational Design and Construction

Martín Alvarez, Achim Menges

ITECH Graduate

Erik Eugenio Martinez

Fab Union Tutor Assistants

Yuchen Hu, Hua Chai


Jiao Zhiheng, Huang Liangbo, Wang Bolun, Liu Yongkang, Scarlett Chensijia, Zhao Mingshu, Li Jiangning, Yang Yang, Cao Yi, Wu Yi, Li Yinze, Peng Qin, Gao Bo, Yuan Sun, Wang Hang, Zhao Yangchen

Organized by


Built Enviroment Technology Center

Tongji University, Shangai