ROBOTOR: the robot-sculptor that carves Carrara marble!
The Quarries of Carrara
Oct 05, 2022 — In the depths of the quarries, we met Filippo Tincolini and Giacomo Massari, the two co-founders of TorArt and Robotor, who have breathed life into a new era for sculpture, transforming their creative ideas into design objects and large-scale works with the help of HSD electrospindles.
"Right from the start, we believed that it was possible to combine tradition and innovation, turning TorArt into an artistic workshop that utilises the most innovative digital techniques, combining a deep respect for traditional hand workmanship with a passion for innovation, through the use of the most cutting-edge technologies out there." These are the words of the company founders Filippo Tincolini and Giacomo Massari, who go on to say "Our job is to make the work of artists a reality, and to meet the requirements of world-famous masters such as Barry x Ball, Jeff Koons, Francesco Vezzoli, Vanessa Beecroft, Giuseppe Penone, Maurizio Cattelan, Zaha Hadid and Jimmie Durham, to name just a few, as well as to succeed in implementing digital archaeology projects and recovering artistic heritage, such as the New Monumental Arch of Palmyra, and works by Canova, Michelangelo and Thorvaldsen - these projects have led to improvements in the performance of the robots used, and this in turn has led to the birth of ROBOTOR".
Today, the mission of ROBOTOR is to deliver an automated technological solution to people which serves to simplify the production process, delegating stone machining operations to the robot. We are witnessing the start of a new era - not just of chisels and dust, but also of scanning and point clouds, where ROBOTOR technology adds value to the process, preventing the artist from having to carry out the most arduous, risky and dangerous work.
"Our strengths lie in our ability to transform the vision of artists with extreme precision and accuracy, whilst drastically reducing production times" explains Giacomo, continuing "Over the years, there are two particular moments in which our work has gained widespread visibility - the first of these was back in 2016, when we created a replica of the Monumental Arch of Palmyra, which was destroyed by ISIS. Our technology enabled us to reconstruct this precious ornamental archway in just 5 weeks, and from a three-dimensional scan, we were able to recreate the arch in a scale of 1:3 using 20 tons of machined marble. This work came to represent a symbol of the strength of technology at the service of mankind, standing against the barbarity and injustice of war. The arch has travelled around the world - from Trafalgar Square in London to New York and Geneva; it has proved to be of great importance for us.
The other key moment occurred this year, when the New York Times wrote about us, dedicating the front page of the print version of the paper and an online article to the company, in which it raised the question of the real authorship of works of art - in other words, whether robots can sculpt better than artists, such as Michelangelo, or whether contemporary artists actually put their own stamp on these creations. This discussion addresses a fundamental theme, and reinforces rather than undermines the importance of technology in our vocation at this point in time." "ROBOTOR is the end result of an extraordinary idea: delegating the task of managing the various phases of machining carried out by the robot to artificial intelligence!" comments Filippo, as he watches the robot equipped with the HSD ES748 electrospindle masterfully working on a statue of a little girl "What you see here is without doubt the highest-performance system we have ever made, Both One, which combines power and precision. It is designed to support heavy weights - the work table can sustain up to 35 tonnes - and can be used to work on sculptures of up to 3.5 metres high.
The system consists of a mechanical arm which uses a range of HSD electrospindles of various sizes and capacities, and features an automatic tool change function, suitable for the CNC milling of various materials. The arm takes full advantage of the areas of movement whilst occupying the smallest possible space, and is equipped with a number of special devices designed to work in extreme conditions. The arm is mounted on a multifunctional base inspired by lunar modules; here, the spaces and the various electrical and hydraulic components are organised and optimised in a safe and highly protected manner. The software remains the beating heart of our systems; in this case, it is fully dedicated to sculpting and to extremely complex projects that even a very experienced programmer would struggle to create. This type of artificial intelligence is based in the cloud - that is, it is not local, but online - and it fully manages the instructions that the system needs in order to create the sculpture. With regard to these instructions, we give it the block, the model and the tools, and this application generates the safest pathways, simulates these and then sends them to the control panel, in order to be executed by the robot in complete autonomy; experience in the configuration of anthropomorphic robots is not required."
“For this project”, confirms Filippo, “we are working with two strategic partners, Kuka and HSD - we consider them to be leaders in their sector, Kuka in anthropomorphic robots and HSD in electrospindles. Bringing these two families together gives us peace of mind with regard to the product, the support and the service, as well as in terms of the development of the new robots we plan to bring to market.”
“Our goal – Giacomo Massari reiterates – is to push the boundaries! To push the boundaries in order to ensure that there are no limitations for the artist and to use technology to enable seemingly impossible feats to be achieved - to go above and beyond to make our solutions accessible to everyone” concludes Giacomo "The robot-sculptor is already a reality, but the robot-artist will never exist!".