The “Kinetic Umbrella” research project at the department of architecture at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) investigates the applicability of flexurally elastic mechanisms in the area of variable grid structures. The controlled elastic deformation of the grid bars enables spatially complex variation processes. An international collaboration with industry was launched to build a prototype for the first semi-elastic variable grid structure. TUM commissioned Online Manufacturer FACTUREE with producing the small format joint components for the nodes.
One of the main focus areas of the department of architecture at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) includes the research and development of innovative building technologies. As part of a doctoral thesis on “Elastic Mechanisms in Grid Structures”, fundamental concepts were already developed and successfully implemented in static applications within the “Kinetic Umbrella” research project. The development includes methods of mechanical simu¬lation, the morphology of elastic mechanisms, architectural and constructive approaches, as well as suitable materials.
In the next step, the potential of such mechanisms for variable constructions will be investigated. For this purpose, a prototype for the first semi-elastic variable grid structure will be developed, featuring a foldable umbrella design with a diameter of eight meters.
M.Sc. Jonas Schikore, civil engineer and research associate at the Technical University of Munich, explains, “Some of the components are produced in our own workshops at TUM. However, when we reach the technical limits of our facilities, we involve third-party suppliers. This was the case in our current project in the production of aluminum extruded profiles. When producing prototypes, it is common practice to have some components made by third parties.”
For planning the prototypes, TUM uses mainly 3D models. Specialized manufacturers are often brought on board to support the process.
“In the construction sector, you always need customized components sooner or later. Our focus is on the research and development of innovative building technologies. As our developments need to account for the industrial processes in order to yield practical solutions and technologies, we are in constant contact with industry for this,” says M.Sc. Jonas Schikore.
Against this background, TUM decided to collaborate with Online Manufacturer FACTUREE, which they had learned about through an internet search, because building the prototype requires customized components. The department of architecture could easily upload 3D models in FACTUREE’s online interface and obtained a calculation within 24 hours. Other competitors did not react to inquiries as quickly.
FACTUREE is a trademark of cwmk GmbH and has an extensive production network of over 1000 manufacturing partners, mainly in the areas of CNC machining, sheet metal processing, 3D printing, and surface technology. In the “Kinetic Umbrella” project, the company supplies the joint component for the nodes of the variable grid structure.
“The components procured through FACTUREE are small-format joint components. The aluminum component can be attached eccentrically to GRP laminates and forms the socket for a pivot bolt. It has inner threads and is suitable for a direct friction-lock connection with the connecting component. It is optically particularly appealing due to the surface treatment,” explains M.Sc. Jonas Schikore.
With the Online Manufacturer, TUM utilizes an especially modern form of procurement. The online network approach allows customized components to be manufactured with a high level of precision and be delivered quickly by specialized suppliers. However, FACTUREE is the only contract partner involved, being responsible for selecting the most suitable manufacturer and handling the entire process.
TUM decided to have their parts provided by FACTUREE because of the convenient contact, the preparation of a timely quotation, and the reasonable delivery times.
M.Sc. Jonas Schikore reports, “We were able to lower the costs of the components after some consultations. For us, the obvious strengths of FACTUREE include the ease of transmitting data and the fast, reliable quotation. The direct personal communication and consulting was also decisive for the smooth procedure. Our contacts responded immediately to our email inquiries and telephone support was also readily available. The cooperation thus far was appraised by our employees to be positive and competent as well.”
In future projects, TUM will continue to rely on high-quality components and optimized costs. “At the chair for structural design, we build prototypes and new developments on a regular basis for our research projects. With FACTUREE, we can now react quickly and efficiently, because the Online Manufacturer offers a wide production range, good prices, and fast provision times. We were very impressed with the quality of the components supplied. Delivery was on time, perceptibly easing our planning and construction process. We will turn to FACTUREE again for further needs going forward,” concludes M.Sc. Jonas Schikore.