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Access the MSD Robotics Lab Knowledge Base
The MSD Robotics lab is an advanced experimental fabrication facility in the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne.
In 2020 the MSD Robotics Lab will be continuing the application of extrusion technologies (such as clay 3D printing) to architectural and construction fabrication tasks. The lab will also be beginning a new exploration into how collaborative robotics can be used within these fabrication tasks.
The Robotics Lab operates on a project-based model while continuing with the ideals of openness, accessibility, and training that have underpinned the lab since it's beginning. As such, the MSD Robotics Lab will always be open and accessible to staff and students to complete their own projects, or to be a part of our projects.
The project model will focus on a 2-stage method. The first stage will involve the development of tools, processes, materials, and software. The second stage will involve the use of these tools to design and to create. In this second stage, the developed tools, processes, materials and software will also be available for teaching, student projects, and research projects.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the lab.
Robotic 3D Printing
During Semester 1 2018, Aimee Lin, a student in the exLab class worked in the robotics lab to 3D print a stool. Below is a video of the process.
MSD ROBOTICS LAB
New Research Papers Coming Soon.
The MSD Robotics Lab provides some code on: https://github.com/MSDRobotics
Below is a selection of projects and classes that have been completed or facilitated by the MSD Robotics Lab.
All staff and students who wish to use the Robotics Lab must complete all inductions up to the Level 3 Robotics Lab Induction.
The Robotics Lab is open for staff and student use on weekdays during the semester. Please speak to Robotics Lab staff to arrange access. Occasionally, robots may be reserved for specific classes, working groups or projects.
Please note that the Robotics Lab is restricted to students and staff who are working on robotics projects, or directly on the vacuum former or soldering iron. The Fabrication Workshop provides spaces in the Machine Workshop, Model Making Space, and the Maker Space for other tasks.
The Safety Induction System
Level 00 – MSD Online Building Induction
To get swipe access to the MSD Building and Baldwin Spencer Building you must agree to the conditions of use set out in the Level 00 – MSD Online Building Induction.
Level 01 – Safety Induction (Online)
This induction introduces and assesses your understanding of general safety principles and procedures that must be adhered to in all ABP Makerspaces. If you want access to any of these spaces you must successfully complete the Level 01 – Safety Induction (Online).
Level 02 – Safety Induction (In person)
This in person safety induction provides a tour of all ABP Makerspaces demonstrating safety procedures and features such as emergency stop buttons and fire extinguishers. You will also learn basic safe use of hand tools allow you to use equipment like power drills and hand saws. Completing this induction will grant you access to the tools in the Forbo Model Making Space, the Robotics Lab (G23) and the Machine Workshop (G24).
Level 03 – Safety Induction (In person)
Level 3 Robot inductions are held during semester and cover robot start-up and pack-down procedures and basic operation. It is intended as a safety induction only and does not cover robot programming. Inductions outside of semester can be arrange with Robotics Lab staff.
For access to the vacuum former located in the Robotic Lab, you will need to book a vacuum former induction.
For access to the soldering station located in the Robotic Lab, you will need to book a soldering station induction.
The Robotics Lab provides training to help you learn how to use equipment and integrate robotic fabrication into your projects. If you have never used robots before and want to learn, we suggest you work through each type of training in the order below.
Follow the Instructions in the Access page to complete the required safety inductions
Access the Knowledge Base
The MSD Robotics Lab Knowledge Base provides specific information on how things work in the Robotics Lab. It includes basic information on how to get started programming the robots.
Talk to the Robotics Lab Staff
Come talk to the Robotics Lab staff about your project. We can point you in the right direction, help you learn how to program robots, and tell you what is possible. You can email us or book a Robotics Lab Consultation. If you cannot make it at the existing booking times, please contact us to arrange another.
The full library of training information for all making and design equipment in the Melbourne School of Design is provided in the Training Centre.
What is a robot, and what use do they have in Architecture & Construction?
A robot is simply a machine built to carry out a complex series of actions with a degree of autonomy. In Architecture & Construction, we often use robots to fabricate things that are otherwise too complex or difficult to fabricate otherwise.
What materials can I use with the robots?
Robots are able to work with any material possible. Weight, tooling and safety considerations limit some material choices. Book a robotics lab consultation to discuss your material choices. Any materials supplied by students will also need an MSDS.
I am excited to use the robots, but also overwhelmed. Can you help me?
Of course. We recognise that learning to use advanced manufacturing technologies is a difficult and time-consuming undertaking. The Robotics Lab team are here to help you. You can come talk to us at any time (although we suggest you book a consultation), send us an email or read through our knowledge base.
I want to use the robots for something that is not already described on your website. What should I do?
You should book a robotics lab consultation, and talk to us about your project. We are always happy to help you realise a new project.
What programming language do I need to know?
Our ABB robots are programmed in ABB’s RAPID language, and can also be programmed via Grasshopper. Other more advanced processes (such as computer vision and machine learning) are typically programmed in Python. You will only need to learn RAPID to program the robots at a basic level.
However, we've spent a lot of time creating scripts for grasshopper that allow students to quickly, and easily get started with our existing processes.
I don't know how to code. Will this stop me using the Robots?
No, you can also program the robots via Rhino & Grasshopper.
I am new to Rhino and/or Grasshopper. Can I still use the Robots?
We provide ready to use grasshopper scripts for some of our tools, as well as basic example scripts. This allows you to start using the Robots in under a day.
You can also program the Robots in RAPID if you wish.
Can staff process jobs for me, or can staff complete my research project for me?
The short answer is no. Robotics Lab staff are here to help you through training and guidance, they will not operate the robot for you. For research projects or classes, the Robotics Lab typically takes the same approach. (i.e. someone on the project team will need to operate the Robots, but Robotics Lab staff will provide training and guidance). At times this may be different, i.e. for a class situation. Please talk to us about your project if you have any questions.
When is the Robotics Lab open?
The Robotics Lab is open between 9:30am to 5:00pm on weekdays. We advise you to book a consultation or email us to arrange a meeting as we are not always available for walk-ins, depending on how busy the lab is.
The MSD Robotics Lab Team
Coordinator, Robotics Lab
MSD Robotics Lab
Lead Technician, Robotics Lab
MSD Robotics Lab
For more information about MSD Robotics Lab, please contact:
Ryan Pennings (Robotics Lab Coordinator)
T: +61 3 8344 1056
The MSD Robotics Lab is located at:
Ground Floor, Glyn Davis Building (B133) (Formerly known as Melbourne School of Design)
University of Melbourne
Victoria, Australia 3010