Stressed Skins was an installation designed and fabricated by the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) as part of its ongoing Complex Modelling project. The installation design and fabrication processes were motivated by a number of interrelated research interests. The first of these was the investigation of multi-scalar modelling techniques and an aim to better understand their potentials within the discipline of architectural design modelling for generative, analytical, and fabrication-related processes. The potentials of a multi-scalar modelling approach explored here apply to the computation of specific material properties in the context of experimental structural systems and digitally-driven production processes. Fundamental to these interests was the development and implementation of a method for managing data structures within and across the multiple models required for each stage of the supply-chain, from concept to build.
Interior view of the connection detail between two skins comprised on incrementally-formed thin-steel panels
The material and assembly system used was of incrementally-formed, thin-sheet steel panels arrayed within a stressed-skin structure. The technique used was robotic single-point incremental forming (SPIF), whereby the the slow application of a point force along a proscribed toolpath to a thin steel sheet steadily pressed it into bespoke forms. The effects of this process are both geometric, and materially transformative. The geometric effects allow for the steel sheets to be pressed such that, when set against an opposite panel, they are capable of producing both structural depth and connection. This integration of structural depth directly withing the panels allowed for the construction to experimentally investigate the possibility of a frameless stressed skin. The effects of the material transformation are such that strain hardening is locally introduced into the material to different degrees, depending on the depth and angle attained through the SPIF process. These variable material effects and properties were central to the multi-scalar modelling interests, which sought to understand the structure at several scales from the macro to the meso to the micro:
Multiscalar modelling strategy