This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will demonstrate a prototype of a high-throughput, agile, low-cost manufacturing system for tile mosaics. Mosaics have been a source of visual splendor for millennia, but they have always required arduous and painstaking hand assembly. Our Phase I proved the feasibility of a programmable, high-throughput robotic tile-assembly system to enhance the production of mosaic tilings. Phase II R&D will build upon Phase I success to further speed up, automate and scale the system, develop an effective agile manufacturing management system, and analyze the economic viability of robotic mosaic assembly for Phase III. We will accomplish this by enhancing the mechanical processes and reducing operator time - in addition to developing a productionflow information system. After Phase II system optimization, we will evaluate the commercial potential of the Artaic technology. The anticipated technical result will be providing a 5x faster manufacturing process with a 75% reduction in the price per square foot of customizable mosaic tilings produced. The intellectual merits of this SBIR project involve Artaic?s disruptive robotic technology, which transforms mosaic installation from its current, time-consuming manual labor processes to a rapid, robotically directed customizable process.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project expands the utilization of artisanal mosaic work while increasing the competitive advantage of U.S. manufacturing processes through increased automation and customization. Successful development of this technology will enable a breakthrough pricing structure that is 75% lower than the competition (based on manual and rudimentary automated processes), leading to broad market affordability and widespread commercial adoption. Our robotic system has the potential to revolutionize the $76B global tile industry, while creating numerous domestic job opportunities. Artaic expects that the 5x increase in manufacturing speed realized during Phase I will be maintained in Phase II during manufacturing scale-up without loss of placement accuracy. The increased understanding of robotic agile manufacturing-enabled mass customization processes will expand the scientific understanding of related robotic processes that utilize highthroughput flexible assemblies, such as for medical or pharmaceutical technologies, or for consumer products. In addition, classical mosaic techniques will become more accessible as an art form to all students, while undergraduate students will increase their understanding of STEM concepts through engineering courses utilizing this technology. Artists and designers will find the realization of their design work much more practical and affordable as a business enterprise.