3D printing is an increasingly widespread reality. The technology has managed to have a strong presence and position itself as one of the fastest and lowest cost forms of design and manufacturing in various industries. Automotive and aerospace industry are a few of the fields where 3D printing technology is already being used extensively. The advantages of 3D printing in medicine are also recognized, where it is capable of producing prostheses of amputated limbs, prostheses of bones or pins, organs, tendons and external parts of the body (such as the ear or nose); likewise, some of the best-known applications of 3D printing are those related to Robotics.
Applications of 3D printing in the field of Robotics
In recent years, 3d printing has become a vital tool for the Robotics Industry. More and more multinationals are betting on this technology. From life-size humanoids to robotic spiders or automated arms, this industry has managed to discover some of the best 3D printed robots to teach, democratize and develop innovation for everyone. Several companies are also offering do-it-yourself 3d printed custom robotic kits.
Here is a list of variations of usage of 3d printing technology in the Robotics space:
Poppy is a French project developed by the Flowers Laboratory. Most of Poppy’s pieces are printed in polyamide, which makes the robot more resistant and lighter. The dimensions of this robot are 83 cm in height and weight of 3.5 kg.
Poppy’s platform is aimed at education (to teach Robotics), for artists and scientists. Poppy analyzes information such as temperature, speed, position and pressure. It has five engines and can be interesting for scientists working in biped locomotion.
#2 InMoov humanoid robot
One of the first Open Source robots in the world, the InMoov robot can speak through two built-in speakers and reacts to voice commands.
The best thing is, everyone who has access to 3D printing services can download it and build it themselves. The innovators’ proposal does not seek only to share the information but helps to improve the robot and get better developments with the help of 3d printing.
#3 Plen 2
Created by the Natsuo Akazawa, this robot exceeded its limits in its crowdfunding campaign with more than $ 25,000 in 2015. The robot comes in a kit with 18 mobile parts printed in 3D; the brand ensures that it is not necessary to have technical knowledge for its assembly.
However, if you are still looking for a better understanding of 3D printing and product design process read our blog on 10 Steps from Product Design to Manufacturing.
Pleurobot is a 3d printed unique robot. It seeks to imitate the movements of a real salamander. The primary mission is to help investigate the movements of vertebrate animals for medical use; they want to achieve an advance in the treatment of paraplegic people.
The Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne in Switzerland which is in charge of Pleurobot has 3d printed bones, added motorized joints and a “nervous system” composed of electronic circuits, to imitate the correct movement of the animal.
Harvard engineers have developed a 3D printed robot that contains no rigid parts and is entirely self-contained. Nicknamed Octopod, this invention is a way to show that you can build robots that replace rigid components, such as the battery and electronic controls with a similar, but flexible system. The design is inspired by a real octopus and works through a chemical reaction using gas under pressure.
Manufacturing of the robot combines several methods including soft lithography, moulding and 3D printing. The research team will improve Octobot to make it swim and interact with its environment. This project could pave the way for the manufacturing of non-solid robots and inspire researchers and scientists in the world in the field of Robotics.
The Robotics industry is changing the way products are designed and manufactured. Custom parts and very quick turnaround time for manufacturing of parts, without minimum order constraint, is the current expectations of the industry.