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WALKING COUPLE: 5-METER SCULPTURE

ART BERENDEEVO STUDIO has been specializing in the production of various concrete products, including sculptures and statuaries, for over 20 years. During this time our team has executed a huge number of orders of various levels of complexity, constantly improving and studying new technologies.
Recently, a high-precision Kuka robotic arm has been added in the arsenal of our sculptors and has already managed to become a principal member of the production process. This unique device has a cutting accuracy of up to 1 micron and a motion range of up to 3.5 meters. With proper configuration, Kuka copes with any task, playing the role of an essential assistant in our studio.
Having received an order to create a five-meter minimalist sculpture of a faceless couple, we decided to produce it by the aid of new robotic technology and share with you the story of its creation.


THE IDEA


The concept of the future sculpture came from the sculptor Pyotr Zaitsev. As a basis for the future art object, the sculptor provided the craftsmen of ART BERENDEEVO STUDIO with his original masterpiece called “The Walking Couple” which is a little over 30 centimeters high. Thanks to the new technology using manual 3D scanning, it is not difficult for our studio to create both reduced and enlarged copies of products of any measures.


DIGITIZING


At the first stage, the provided model of the future sculpture is digitized in order to create a detailed 3D-model suitable for loading into the Kuka robot. By means of manual scanner, the sample is scanned, then the shape and dimensions of the product are specified by full tracking. The resulting 3D-model repeats all the curves and details of “The Walking Couple” figure provided by the customer. 

Thus, we got the exact coordinates of the boundaries of the future art object. The data obtained served as the basis for creating data files for the robotic arm, so as to let craftsmen of ART BERENDEEVO STUDIO start the creation of the formwork to be filled with concrete.


THE MOLD


Before creating the actual formwork it was necessary to carve a three-dimensional form made of foam, the inners of which exactly repeats the shape of the future sculpture. The foam mold was machined by the Kuka milling robot within the exact boundaries along the x, y, z axes, which were set while digitizing ― at the stage of creating the 3D model.



In order to carve the foam mold we used 4 foam cubes measuring 1 x 1.20 x 3.5 meters, which were to be milled. After uploading the data files and launching Kuka, at this stage, we only had to observe the process. The memory of the robotic arm sets the limits of the workspace, and the local coordinate system guarantees the exact result of the implementation of the defined shape. 


First, a rough milling is done to set a preliminary form of the sculpture. Although the dimensions of the model required carving several foam cubes, the silhouette of the sculpture began to emerge already at the stage of rough milling. It is noteworthy that in order to cut four cubes at once, our Kuka robot operator had to set the program for each cube one at a time.
Painstaking high-precision work of the Kuka robot resulted in the finished form, the surface of which was later sanded, clean finished and lubricated with grease in order to prevent concrete and foam from sticking together at later stages of work.


THE FORMWORK


At this stage, a box of plywood on a metal base 4 meters high was created for the foam mold. Since we understood that the weight of the formwork after its creation would be large, we designed a book-like mechanism. On special roller skids, mold parts were welded, tightly attached to the floor.

THE CASTING


Having created the outer shell of the future art object, the specialists of ART BERENDEEVO STUDIO started filling the inners of the formwork with architectural concrete. First of all, the craftsmen placed a metal structure inside, meant to become the basis of the future product. The welded armature frame filled the entire internal space of the sculpture, since the span structures were strengthened with additional armature rods 10⌀ in diameter and 40/40 profile. This prevents the cracking after drying.
After a successful casting, the concrete needed 3 days to set. Sculptures created in the molding way usually harden in a period of 2 to 3 days, depending on the shape and size of the product.


THE FINISHING


3 days after the concrete mix was poured into the mold, it was time to dismantle. This has not come without difficulties, because the total weight of the structure already exceeded 5 tons. Only having recourse to the help of a tractor, we managed to place the vertically standing formwork on the ground in order to dismantle it and extract the resulting sculpture. In the end, to give the sculpture a finished look, we made the final finishing of the surface: polishing and eliminating defects.
Now this minimalist sculpture adorns the private premise territory.