Automated 3D weaving continuous natural fibre and optimising harakeke fibre characterisation : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Engineering in Mechatronics at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This research investigated the design and implementation of a continuous natural fibre filament winding robot for modern artistic and structural architectural design. The idea of a new architectural construction technique based on Arduino integration was inspired by the underwater nesting structure of water spiders. It consists of the motion component, a 3-axis sliding table with limit switches, the construction of the machine, the programming and testing of the resulting microcomputer software through to a robot manufacturing process. This was based on Arduino’s new integrated development environment. In addition, the intelligent programming mode forms the preconceived pattern through winding, producing a model with unique architectural quality, and at the same time, making a structure with superior material efficiency. In terms of hardware design, the first conceptual model focused on using an open-source integrated development environment (IDE) that could be easily configured. Arduino hardware was the primary microcontroller of choice for simplicity and ease of hardware integration and software development. Stepper motor drivers are used to control the three stepper motors to accurately move the fibre feeding mechanism on the sliding table into position. The path of the sliding table is controlled by the controller, and the machine can make forward, backward, wire feed and other movements according to the programmed commands. The developed system automatically weaves and feeds natural fibre into the desired structure. The resulting lightweight natural fibre material forms a model with unique architectural quality. The results show that the model is of great value and significance, and it can be used to make the required structure with the desired natural fibre. Additionally, to establish the feasibility of future work focusing on harakeke fibre development in design and construction, the tensile strength of native New Zealand flax fibre (harakeke fibre) was evaluated with a view for use in these load bearing and architectural design applications. Single filament fibres were selected in batches and tensile tested. The longitudinal strength of specimens was established, and the mechanical properties of the fibres were summarised. Comparison of these attributes with existing data was used to determine if the harakeke fibre can be applied usefully in the construction industry. This research is based on the novel concept of architectural design in the construction industry using 3D weaving with natural fibres, in particular harakeke fibres. To achieve this, several related topics are under investigation, such as the need to design an improved feeding system (including hardware and software control), impregnation of fibre and resin (epoxy and polyester) to make preimpregnated (prepreg) fibre/resin filament, adaptive controlled programme and hardware for the required architecture and structure, and properties testing and characterisation. This project is one of the first attempts to develop an automated robot arm system combined with new material, in this case harakeke fibre, and has made a valuable contribution to this field of research.
Some possibly copyrighted Figures remain for the sake of clarity.
Building, Technological innovations, Robots, Design and construction, Weaving, Plant fibers, Phormium tenax, Testing, 3D-weaving and feeding machine, continuous fibre, architecture, tensile test, harakeke fibre