RoboCut: Hot-wire Cutting with Robot-controlled Flexible Rods

Simon Duenser, Roi Poranne, Bernhard Thomaszewski, Stelian Coros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hot-wire cutting is a subtractive fabrication technique used to carve foam and similar materials. Conventional machines rely on straight wires and are thus limited to creating piecewise ruled surfaces. In this work, we propose a method that exploits a dual-arm robot setup to actively control the shape of a flexible, heated rod as it cuts through the material. While this setting offers great freedom of shape, using it effectively requires concurrent reasoning about three tightly coupled sub-problems: 1) modeling the way in which the shape of the rod and the surface it sweeps are governed by the robot's motions; 2) approximating a target shape through a sequence of surfaces swept by the equilibrium shape of an elastic rod; and 3) generating collision-free motion trajectories that lead the robot to create desired sweeps with the deformable tool. We present a computational framework for robotic hot wire cutting that addresses all three sub-problems in a unified manner. We evaluate our approach on a set of simulated results and physical artefacts generated with our robotic fabrication system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98:1-98:15
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 8 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Centre of Competence in Digital Fabrication (NCCR dfab).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 ACM.


  • computer graphics
  • fabrication
  • robotics
  • sensitivity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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