June 4, 2013 AT 12:54 pm

6500 Silkworms and a Robot Build a Dome at MIT Media Labs

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A suspended dome whose structure was begun by a robotic arm was completed by a veritable army of 6500 silkworms, extruding continuous silk from their heads to complete this suspended dome at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  via dezeen:

The team programmed the robotic arm to imitate the way a silkworm deposits silk to build its cocoon. The arm then deposited a kilometre-long silk fibre across flat polygonal metal frames to create 26 panels. These panels were arranged to form a dome, which was suspended from the ceiling.

6500 live silkworms were then placed on the structure. As the caterpillars crawled over the dome, they deposited silk fibres and completed the structure.

The Silk Pavilion was designed and constructed at the MIT Media Lab as part of a research project to explore ways of overcoming the existing limitations of additive manufacturing at architectural scales.

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