This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will demonstrate a proof-of-concept prototype of a high-throughput agile tile mosaic manufacturing system. Mosaics have proven to be a great source of visual splendor for thousands of years. Despite its prominence in art and architecture, mosaic is arduous to design and assemble by hand. The goal of this Phase I work is to prove the feasibility of a programmable high-throughput multi-head robotic tile assembly system to enhance the production agility of mosaic tilings. Research innovation in Phase I will merge the benefits of parallel tile placement with robust high-capacity tile cartridges to radically decrease tile mosaic fabrication time and associated tile mosaic assembly costs. The measurable objective of Phase I is a 5x increase in production throughput over current state-of-the-art mosaic manufacturing technology, while enhancing tile placement accuracy. The system will be capable of producing both template and ?mass customized? mosaics. In Phase II, the prototype will be refined into a commercial grade system, integrated with an Enterprise Resource Planning system, and placed into service in Artaic?s production environment. Successful Phase I/II demonstration will significantly lower the time and cost for manufacturing mosaics and potentially revolutionize the $76B global tile industry.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project goes beyond art, design, and architecture. Robotic automation will lower the cost of mosaic and increase its societal impact in adorning public, commercial, and residential spaces. The proposed research, if successful, will have a significant impact on agile manufacturing. It will allow penetration into unforeseen markets by reducing the cost of highthroughput flexible assembly. The solution proposed by the research will be immediately applicable to customers and partners, and potentially useful in parallel industries such as medical, pharmaceutical, food, consumer products, and others that will benefit from robotic agile manufacturing enabled mass customization. Agile mosaic manufacturing capability could revitalize the U.S. tile manufacturing industry and create job opportunities. The investigators estimate that a 5x production rate increase will enable a breakthrough price of $19.99, 75% lower than the competition, and for the first time achieve broad market affordability.

Project Report

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposed to demonstrate a proof-of-concept prototype of a high-throughput agile tile mosaic manufacturing system. Mosaics have proven to be a great source of visual splendor for thousands of years. Despite its prominence in art and architecture, mosaic is arduous to design and assemble by hand. The Phase I work proved the feasibility of a programmable high-throughput multi-head robotic tile assembly system to enhance the production agility of mosaic tilings. Research innovation in Phase I merged the benefits of parallel tile placement with robust high- capacity tile cartridges to radically decrease tile mosaic fabrication time and associated tile mosaic assembly costs. The measurable objective of Phase I was a 5x increase in production throughput over current state-of-the-art mosaic manufacturing technology, while enhancing tile placement accuracy. The system is capable of producing both template and "mass customized’’ mosaics. In Phase II, the prototype will be refined into a commercial grade system, integrated with an Enterprise Resource Planning system, and placed into service in Artaic's production environment. Successful Phase I/II demonstration will significantly lower the time and cost for manufacturing mosaics and potentially revolutionize the $76B global tile industry. This work has broad commercial potential in art, design, and architecture. Robotic automation will lower the cost of mosaic and increase its societal impact in adorning public, commercial, and residential spaces. This successful research will have a significant impact on agile manufacturing. It will allow penetration into unforeseen markets by reducing the cost of high-throughput flexible assembly. This research is immediately applicable to Artaic's customers and partners (including for example The Home Depot), and potentially useful in parallel industries that would benefit from robotic agile manufacturing enabled mass customization. Agile mosaic manufacturing capability could revitalize the U.S. tile manufacturing industry and create job opportunities. The investigators estimate that a 5x production rate increase will enable a breakthrough price of $19.99, 75% lower than the competition, and for the first time achieve broad market affordability. During the execution of the project, a number of undergraduate students, women, and minority students were involved in the project through various outreach programs. Outreach to K-12 students in STEM subjects was conducted by Artaic and is expanding.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1113606
Program Officer
Muralidharan S. Nair
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-07-01
Budget End
2012-06-30
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$180,000
Indirect Cost
Name
Artaic LLC
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Boston
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02210