Four researchers from different universities collaborated to create rolyPOLY – a unique flexible shelter produced by robotic winding of carbon fibers. The 20-pound, single-occupant CFRP prototype is seen as an example of the potential of tensioned CFRP as a means of creating complex architectural structures with minimal construction waste.

“The successful completion of rolyPOLY shows the potential for the use of preimpregnated carbon FRP tow in conjunction with tensile modeling for architectural-scale projects within the context of digital craft,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers chose the preimpregnated CFRP due to workability, consistency, overall stability, curing attributes, toxicity and overall strength. The rolyPOLY took the form of a hendecahedron (11 faces) consisting of 10 flat surfaces, two of which left open for user access. The actual making of the shelter required a complex robotic winding process, curing, demounting and installation.

To achieve the best strength, layer rigidity, consistency, and visual opacity, the researchers developed winding pattern consisting of three repeating steps: (1) peak winding – to generate a stable and consistent form, (2) valley winding – to connect the structure’s low points, and (3) spiral winding – adding a third layer of FRP on all the intersecting panel edges. Each step consisted of four unique layers of wound carbon FRP. After completing one full winding cycle, the winding direction was flipped 180 degrees and restarted.

After winding, the structure was baked in a large 6.5’ x 5’ x 5’ gas-fired kiln at 260 F. Unlike applied resin systems that contain an additional hardener, the researchers used a heat-activated resin preimpregnated in the carbon fiber, which required extremely precise curing times and temperatures. Upon cooling, the structure’s steel formwork was removed from the composite shell.

For more details, click here to ready the full study by authors Andrew John Wit, Simon Kim, Mariana Ibañez and Daniel Eisinger.