The In Situ Fabricator may be able to stack bricks and weld rebar – but in an extracurricular role it has now become a BBQ chef! When our host institute, ITA, turned 10 years old last month, we wanted to do something special and it was a throwaway comment about how best to cater for our guests that really got things cooking. Taking on new technological -and culinary – challenges, a team from NCCR Digital Fabrication designed a “Robotic Grill” to cook 500 burgers in 90 minutes.

After a meeting planning our celebration extravaganza, technicians Mike Lyrenmann and Philippe Fleischmann got to work programming, engineering and adapting one of our robots to become our very own chef for the evening. The pair worked with chef Daniel Zeindlhofer (chef and manager at restaurant VISTA, Sagogn, Switzerland) and a team of researchers and staff to create the perfect burger, and the most efficient assembly line.

In the end, 500 burgers were cooked in 90 minutes, by cooking six at once using three ovens heated to 800oC and a custom made grilling tool weighing 20kg. The burgers themselves were 8mm thick and cooked for 35 seconds per side and a team of 10 assistants worked with the robot to load the pickup station and collect the cooked burgers to be made into the finished product. During the whole event, only five burgers were lost during grilling.

The robotic grill wasn’t the only NCCR Digital Fabrication presence at the party. Guests may have noticed that the bar they picked up their drinks from was made from 3D printed concrete, the same technology used in the Concrete Choreography project from earlier this year.

Photo: Giulia Marthaler