Awarded Grants - 2023
3D printing of microbial bio-cement
Grant beneficiary: Karen Andrea Antorveza Paez
Sending research group: ETH Zurich, Department of Architecture, Digital Building Technologies (DBT)
Hosting research group: EPFL, Geosystems and Natural Resources, Laboratory of Soil Mechanics
The EXCHANGE program provided an opportunity to familiarize oneself with the Laboratory of Soil Mechanics at EPFL, including introductions to the team members and an overview of the lab's research interests. A presentation on bio-cementation further contextualized the focus on microbiologically induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) and the large-scale methods the research group has developed.
Following the introduction to the lab and its tools, the investigation focused on exploring the conditions for MICP-based 3D printing paste based on an experimental approach. Dr. Dimitrios Terzis supervised the practical activities, which involved testing different concentrations of key components, such as bacteria solution, granulates, polymer, and calcium chloride. Extrusion with a syringe and mold preparation techniques were employed to assess the paste's suitability for 3D printing. Further development of the initial experiments, such as testing different ratios compositions and mechanical characterization, must be done.
The conducted experiments established an initial solid collaboration with the host institution. In the future, we plan to combine their bio-cementation methods with computational design and digital fabrication techniques used for architectural applications.
A robotic cell for flexible pick-and-place tasks
Grant beneficiary: Mitra Gholami
Sending research group: BFH, Institute for Human-Centered Engineering, cpvrLab
Hosting research group: SUPSI, Dalle Molle Institute for AI (IDSIA), Mobile Robotics
The SAMCE Exchange Grant 2023 allowed me to implement a robotic cell for flexible pick-and-place tasks with the support of Alessandro Giusti’s team from SUPSI. Over a productive five days, we conducted successful experiments, revealing the potential of robotic automation in handling delicate glass micro-devices.
This endeavor was a collaborative venture, with multiple parties contributing their expertise to achieve the project's goals. FEMTOPrint S.A provided the testing workspace, enabling us to work with actual pieces, and gave access to their specialized camera for precise image acquisition. The task of image processing and data extraction from acquired images was managed by Jamal Saaedi from the IDSIA USI-SUPSI Institute. Additionally, No-Touch Robotics provided the robot gripper. The project was supported by a grant from the Innovation Booster Robotics.
A complete demonstrator for a pick-and-place robotic task to delicately manage small glass components was developed in Lugano. The collaboration with Jamal Saaedi and Alessandro Giusti from SUPSI allowed us to rapidly integrate and combine the robotic and the vision systems, but also to learn from each other’s expertise.
We effectively utilized the specialized camera to capture precise images of transparent pieces. By applying image processing and programming techniques, we conducted tests to establish efficient and safe task procedures. To enhance the process, we introduced a teaching strategy involving a 6D tracking device. This allowed intuitive trajectory learning based on piece features and workspace requirements. This phase involved multiple tests, adjusting parameters, and addressing challenges.
The lessons drawn from this exchange will have a profound impact on my academic and professional journey. The knowledge gained in calibrating and programming robotic systems, as well as invaluable insights into robotics, micro-device handling, and programming, enhances my capacity to design similar automated solutions. Additionally, the exposure to collaborative settings will influence my approach to project management and teamwork strategies.
In conclusion, my participation in the SAMCE Exchange Grant 2023 and the work with SUPSI scientists was truly enlightening. The successful implementation of the robotic cell underscores the transformative potential of robotics in manufacturing. I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn from experts and to apply this newfound insight to my academic pursuits.