Meet the artists taking part in Better Factory (round 1)!
Better Factory is a project funded by the European Commission, which supports manufacturing SMEs to collaborate with artists and technology providers to develop new and personalised products. The artists in each team play a crucial role – let’s find out more about them!
The 7 teams that passed through the first round of Better Factory received access to the Robotics and Automation MarketPlace (RAMP), training to re-skill staff, business support and mentoring, and to get up to EUR 200,000 funding, to conduct their experiments.
Meet the artists from round 1!
Through the Better Factory experiments, artists are able to collaborate with manufacturing SMEs for the redesign and co-creation of new products and services. Artists can spur innovations on the path to digital transformation with manufacturing SMEs, create new business opportunities and expand their portfolio.
Here is what they were working on:
The SMARTHAM project explored ways in which digital technologies can enforce the centuries-old and highly regulated production of hams without conflicting with the rules, as well as enhance its distinguishing taste.
The artist in the project focused on developing the idea of taste mapping by measuring and translating brain stimulation activity while tasting Parma ham. Such an algorithm did not exist, and the artist developed a first working prototype of such a mapping tool. Feeding the algorithm with current state of the art knowledge on brain – taste relations, the tool shows highly detailed and specific taste experiences which are captured by the brain, yet not necessarily experienced by the body.
The SMARTHAM project led to a set of early stage usages of digital, AI based tools, which could contribute to the future of Parma ham production and consumption while not interfering with the centuries old standards.
The DSBSF project focused on the development and production of custom industrial weighing scales in Greece, introducing Industry 4.0 solutions, from worker well-being to connecting scales with automated vehicles.
The artist in the project focused on the role digital technology could play in improving factory worker wellbeing. This led to the development of personalised AR break rooms (accessed through a Hololens), allowing workers to retreat into a mixed reality environment filled with personal attributes, as well as possibilities to exercise mindfulness and mediation.
The DSBSF project led to an, in the words of the manufacturer, ‘big eye on the process’, allowing for optimization and control, and a prototyped solution for worker health and well-being in mixed reality.
The FOLD project explored and pushed the boundaries of the use of stone paper for a paper packaging manufacturer in Bulgaria.
The artist in the project conceived a series of prototypes ranging from stone paper made lamps, to wallets, and even trench coats. Of this catalogue, the lamp is the first product to be incorporated in the manufacturer’s portfolio, expanding their markets with this material. The artist also developed a proof-of-concept process for stone paper 3D printing, demonstrating the possibilities to turn the paper into printable paste. The consortium continues to develop this technology, currently working towards a prototype 3D printer for stone paper production.
The FOLD project led to increased production capacity, an improved existing and a completely new product, for the world’s first stone paper 3D printing system. The project won the I4MS Award.
The MiniRoboFab project took place within an outdoor electrical enclosures factory. These enclosures are covered in an extensive metal powder coating for safety against weather conditions, which produces a lot of powder waste.
The artistic experiments led to the identification and implementation of options to customise powdering of electrical enclosures for aesthetics (aligning the colour scheme with the environment) as well as durability. Higher durability, resulting in lower maintenance, is achieved by not seeing the enclosure as single sheets to coat evenly, but applying coating in different thicknesses or mixes on those parts of the sheets which require it. For example due to higher UV exposure on one side or increased rain/wind exposure because of its physical location.
The MiniRoboFab project led to the introduction of a new line of products reusing waste powder coating for the British market, as well as a decrease in purchasing costs for virgin powder, and therefore an efficiency gain for the manufacturer.
The WRC project dealt with the topic of robotization within metal welding and the possibilities this would give to rethink the ways in which containers can be produced. The project was set within a Slovakian manufacturing factory of customised containers for anything but shipping.
The artist in the project researched and explored welding possibilities, ranging from spot welding to fluid form welding, which could be instructed to the robotic cell. This led to the realization of a metal welded door with the need for less support material, less welds to produce and complete new aesthetic qualities, partly realized as a result of the welding.
The RWC project led to increased productivity, lowering the time to weld a singular door from five hours to one hour, less need for support materials (thus less waste) and less need for welds (thus saving energy) by art-driven experimentation of ways in which metal containers can be welded in the age of robotics.
The ODC3D project took place within the context of a small-scale, additive manufacturing, plastics recycling manufacturer of outside furniture objects with a high standard of aesthetics and design.
The artist in the project developed a new printing technique based on artisanal crafts like weaving, sewing and knitting. By translating these ancient old techniques to a 3D modelling tool, the project managed to demonstrate both how this expands the possibilities of designing for additive manufacturing for artistic outcomes as well as functional objects.
The solution led to an increase in the control of production quality for the SME, which in turn allowed for the successful implementation of the artisanal craft based new printing technique. The outcomes were showcased at Design Miami 2022 and the project was scouted for the S+T+ARTS prize for innovative collaboration 2023.
The BetterCNCFactory project aimed to innovate the process of CNC cutting of wood, within the walls of a factory specialized in customized wooden furniture and construction elements, ranging from theatre decors to kitchens or complete interiors.
The artist in the project focused on anchoring the ideas of parametric design and algorithmic design into the joint solution, by co-developing the software solution FoundObjects with the technology supplier. Not only did this lead to even less waste residue than what would have been the case if the solution solely focused on the manufacturers project funnel, but, and more importantly, this allows for extensive diversification of the offerings of the manufacturer. In the first instance as a service provider to third parties, like artists, designers and architects, who can add their files to the FoundObjects system nesting cue, thereby saving time and cost (because the software nests it in the most efficient way) for producing their objects. In second instance, as a developer of new possibilities, by being suggested new possibilities by the AI driven algorithmic design tool, on a regular basis.
The FoundObjects outcome of the BetterCNCFactory is being used daily in the factory itself, and has been showcased at Dutch Design Week 2022, as well as Milan Design Week 2023. Moreover, the project led to continued collaborations between the three parties, who continue developing the solution through a follow up project involving more artists and designers, as well as through diffusing the solution to other, nesting based, manufacturing companies in Europe.
Stay tuned for our next article focusing on the artists in the second round of Better Factory experiments, which will be published soon!