Michelangelo’s David and many other masterpieces were made from marble quarried in Carrara, Italy. Sculptures have been carved from marble for thousands of years, but now robots are automating the process.
Nowadays, many artists avoid working with Carrara marble. Artists have to be careful about inhaling the dust, which can cause a health problem. Now, artists return to creating marble statues, but send their designs to Robotor and let the company’s robots sculpt them.
As well as avoiding the need for artists to be present during the chiselling process, this also speeds up the completion of their works; according to Robotor, the robots can duplicate a monument from a sculptor who took years to carve his work, to be completed in hours with a robotic assistant.
Marco Ciampolini, an art historian, pointed out that many of history’s greatest artists, including Michelangelo, outsourced their work. The only difference between the two eras is that today’s sculptors work with robot assistants instead of apprentices.
It is obvious that computer numerically controlled (CNC)-cutting robots are perfect for use in the fields of sculpture and stone carving. For decades, robots have been able to replicate virtually anything created or manufactured by humans, only faster, more accurately and affordably.
What is most intriguing is pushing the limits of automated stone carving systems. The finished piece takes advantage of the precision of robotic drills and chisels, as well as the ability to unleash the creativity of computerised design tools.
Automation makes it possible to properly anticipate the duration of a manufacturing process and to determine the cost of the project. Two stages of the machining process are controlled by a different program. Following this order, operators can change tools to obtain different finishes or replace diamond cutting tips when they wear out at predetermined intervals. Granite wears cutting tools three times faster than marble, which is comparatively more fragile.
New digital technologies bring robots closer than ever to the design process. Using intercommunication protocols between milling and fabrication robots, 3D scanners and virtual reality equipment to digitally sculpt marble.
To find classic stone and marble sculptures, stone carvers investigate the potential of digital design, artificial intelligence and machine learning.