FLOCKS Wobot is a new and independently developed cobot, especially made for working
with local European wools that would be otherwise disposed of. The Wobot is a
collaborative robot that makes it possible to build three-dimensional
structures with wool industrially for the first time without adding any
material or using water in the felting process; it uses just wool. The three-dimensional
wool structures that it creates are strong and soft at the same time.
the one hand the alternative production technique is meant to utilize the 1,5
million kg of wool thrown away each year in The Netherlands, on the other hand
the material is being developed as an environmentally friendly substitute for
materials such as foam rubber, glass wool, stone wool and polystyrene foam. The new
technique celebrates the unique properties of wool – its softness, strength,
warmth, acoustic properties and air permeability.
using natural virgin wool, it is also possible to blend it with recycled wool to add
color and create a rich color palette. Tests have been made in collaboration
with the local Gelderland furniture factory, using the colorful woolen off-cuts
collected from their production process.
The project is a follow up
to the Zachte Stad; a research project commissioned by Rotterdam Circulair
about finding out what was the quality and value of the wool of the Rotterdam
herd of sheep owned by Martin Oosthoek.
After doing this project Meindertsma felt there was a need for a new
technique that would make it possible to build wool in truly three-dimensional
shapes without limits in size.
Two techniques are being developed at the same time; one is the Wobot that is developed for creating free needle felted forms, the other a is a new ‘Block wool’ machinethat can create blocks of wool that can be cut to shape.
The Wobot is being developed in close collaboration
with TFT, Tools for Technology. Meindertsma and TFT are currently developing the technique
The Wobot is developed during, and made possible by the making of two exhibitions; ‘Re-forming Waste’ at the V&A as part of the curatorial project MAKE GOOD: Rethinking material futures and ‘Onder de wol’ at the Cuypershuis.
The first two Wobots are currently on display at the Cuypershuis
in Roermond - until March 2024, and V&A in London - from 22nd
of November 2023 until October 2024 - in the exhibition Re-forming Waste.
COMMISSIONED BY: V&A, Cuypershuis
TFT Tools for Technology, Sara Alvarez, Bart
Harteloh, Doosan Robotics, Dormac Cobots, Martin Oosthoek, De Wassum, Havivank, Gelderland, Rotterdam Circulair, Lisa Hardon, Creative Industries Fund NL and Stichting DOEN.
Photography: Mathijs Labadie, Roel van Tour Text edit: Laura Houseley Graphic design: Kumi Hiroi Coding: Henrik van Leeuwen