Optimizing Energy Use in 3D Concrete Printing Robots

In a recent article published in the journal Robotics, researchers investigated the energy consumption of robots employed in three-dimensional concrete printing (3DCP) technology and proposed an energy consumption model specifically designed for the Printing Mantis, a unique printing robot optimized for 3DCP applications.

Optimizing Energy Use in 3D Concrete Printing Robots
The energy flow of the Printing Mantis. Image Credit: https://www.mdpi.com/2218-6581/13/5/78

Background

3DCP, also known as 3D construction printing, is a rapidly evolving field that utilizes additive manufacturing techniques for constructing building structures. This technology involves the extrusion of cement-based materials through robotic systems and offers numerous advantages over traditional construction methods. These advantages include increased efficiency, reduced waste, optimized material usage, and significant energy savings.

Previous research has demonstrated that 3DCP can lead to substantial reductions in construction costs and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to conventional methods. However, these technologies are not without their drawbacks, as they can consume significant amounts of energy. Therefore, it is important to analyze the energy consumption of 3DCP to optimize the control and movement of printing robots, reducing their energy footprint.

About the Research

In this paper, the authors focused on a detailed exploration of modeling, analyzing, and comparing the energy consumption of robots utilized in 3DCP. They introduced a novel technique to address the absence of comprehensive energy consumption models for 3DCP robots in existing literature. Moreover, they employed a combination of direct and indirect approaches to model energy consumption, including direct measurements of power consumption on the physical/real robot with mathematical analysis and simulation.

The researchers conducted a comprehensive power analysis to investigate the energy distribution within the Printing Mantis robot. This analysis identified key components influencing overall energy consumption, including the control system, servo amplifiers, and the drive train.

Following this, they compared the kinematic structures of the Printing Mantis, a gantry robot (TestBed), and a virtual articulated robot (ABB IRB4600) moving along a standardized printing trajectory. This comparative study aimed to evaluate the impact of different kinematic configurations on energy usage.

Additionally, the study developed a methodology to establish reduced efficiency maps for individual robot actuators. This process involved determining the robot's inertial parameters and correlating axis inputs with positions, velocities, and torques. The resulting data was processed to create maps that forecast actuator efficiency for any printing trajectory.

By leveraging these reduced efficiency maps and predicted mechanical powers, the authors estimated the energy consumption of the Printing Mantis. They validated their model's accuracy by comparing the predicted energy consumption with actual measurements, demonstrating the effectiveness of their approach in predicting and analyzing energy usage in 3DCP robots.

Research Findings

The paper highlighted the significant influence of optimizing the kinematic structure of the robot on the energy usage of printing robots. The authors found that articulated robots, commonly used in 3DCP applications, consumed more energy than gantry robots. This difference was attributed to the need for articulated robots to counteract gravitational forces affecting their joints, resulting in increased energy consumption.

The researchers emphasized the importance of considering efficiency as a complex parameter influenced by various factors such as speed and torque. They demonstrated that neglecting efficiency in energy consumption models could lead to significant inaccuracies in power prediction, potentially exceeding 50 % in some cases.

The proposed methodology for determining reduced efficiency maps proved to be a valuable tool for accurately predicting the energy consumption of printing robots. This approach could offer several advantages over traditional methods, including reduced experimental time and eliminating the need for dedicated measuring stations and isolated measurements of individual actuators.

Furthermore, the newly presented energy consumption model achieved an impressive accuracy rate of up to 90.3 % in predicting power consumption during printing operations. This high level of precision was achieved by integrating the reduced efficiency maps into the model, underscoring the efficacy and reliability of this approach in accurately forecasting and analyzing energy consumption in printing robots for 3DCP applications.

These outcomes have significant implications for the future of 3DCP technology. They can guide practitioners in designing robots specifically tailored for 3DCP applications, leading to more efficient and optimized robotic systems. Furthermore, the developed methodology can be applied to other printing robots, enabling the creation of more accurate energy consumption models and facilitating the optimization of their energy efficiency.

Conclusion and Future Scopes

In summary, the study provided a comprehensive analysis of energy consumption in 3DCP robots, offering valuable insights into the factors influencing energy usage. It emphasized the importance of considering efficiency as a complex parameter and highlighted the significant impact of kinematic structure on energy consumption. These results could effectively contribute to the development of sustainable and energy-efficient construction practices and policies.

Moving forward, the researchers suggested refining the methodology for determining reduced efficiency maps, exploring more advanced data processing techniques, and expanding the scope of torques and velocities considered.

Additionally, they emphasized the necessity of investigating optimal low-level control strategies for printing robots to enhance overall efficiency and minimize energy consumption. Furthermore, they recommended conducting a comprehensive life cycle assessment of 3DCP technology, encompassing the energy consumption of robots alongside other factors such as material production, transportation, and construction processes.

Journal Reference

Kajzr, D.; Myslivec, T.; Černohorský, J. Modelling, Analysis and Comparison of Robot Energy Consumption for Three-Dimensional Concrete Printing Technology. Robotics 2024, 13, 78. https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics13050078, https://www.mdpi.com/2218-6581/13/5/78.

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Muhammad Osama

Written by

Muhammad Osama

Muhammad Osama is a full-time data analytics consultant and freelance technical writer based in Delhi, India. He specializes in transforming complex technical concepts into accessible content. He has a Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering with specialization in AI & Robotics from Galgotias University, India, and he has extensive experience in technical content writing, data science and analytics, and artificial intelligence.

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