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Monday, September 7, 2009

KUKA in Kuwait...



As someone interested in the various CAD-CAM technologies and the way they are used, one has a tendency to always keep an ear and eye open for examples of both the machines themselves as well as evidence of products produced by such fabrication methods. There are a number of service providers in Kuwait, most found in the Dasman Complex and Shuwaikh area, providing both laser-cutting and 3-axis milling services. Kuwait University's architectural department also has a laser-cutter as well as a 3-axis milling machine. As of yet no more sophisticated subtractive methods (multi-axis CNC technologies) nor additive processes (Stereolithography, Fused Deposition Modeling, 3D Printing) have crossed our path, until recently, when, whilst visiting the Avenues Mall's Magic Planet inside amusement park, where a KUKA industrial robot has been adapted into a ride.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with using such high-tech methods as a children's ride as the KUKA is, after all, the 'Swiss Army Knife' of industrial robots. It does seem, however, that using a KUKA for this purpose is a bit of an overkill and somewhat of a lost opportunity – a bit like using a Bentley for a pizza-delivery. This robot, which can carve, shape and position things up to a thousand kilos in weight at an accuracy of ±0.2 mm, only as a children's ride is a bit strange, particularly if it is amongst the only ones, if not the only one, in Kuwait. This 6-axis multi-tasker is the work-horse of the CAD-CAM fabrication world, and has an established presence all around the globe, except, as far as I know, the Gulf and the Middle-East. It and its likes are also already widely used at various academic and research institutions (both architectural, engineering and computer science departments), where the means for how they could/ should be used and adapted is pushed even further.

If anyone has used, or even just come across, one of these robots somewhere in the region please get in touch. It would be great to set-up something, perhaps a collaborative research project, exploring how a KUKA (or its like) could be used in the designing and building of something more architectural in character and purpose in Kuwait and what it would entail to use something of this calibre in the region.


2 comments:

asseel said...

What a waste of money if its not being used to its full potential...maybe we could stake a large scale heist!

Thomas said...

Hi Asseel,

Perhaps we could sneak in during lunch-hours, and re-program it to walk itself out from there during the closing hours. I'm sure we could find it a better home elsewhere, perhaps in one of the under-used backrooms on the top-floor of the architectural department..?! We could feed it blocks of wood and high-density foam, and throw it a software cookie or two for additional contentment... Fun, fun, fun..!

Tom