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Cocooning caterpillars inspire new 3D printer design

by • April 7, 2016 • No Comments

As with its SmartBird, BionicKangaroo and robotic ants, Festo’s Bionic Learning Network has once again looked to the effortless world for inspiration during the development of a new 3D printing solution. Rather than gradually forming an object layer by layer like a desktop extruder, the 3D Cocooner works additional like a sophisticated robotic create of a CreoPop 3D printing pen, hardening the printed material with UV light as the structure is created. Objects are created in a much like style to a spider spinning its web or a caterpillar manufacturing its cocoon, resulting in complicated, free-standing, three-dimensional lattice structures.

  • As it leaves the spinneret, the 2 mm glass fiber thread is moved through a pair ...
  • The system is fed the necessary positional data of 3D modeling software running on a connected ...
  • The glass fiber thread is and so met by precisely-regulated UV light as it leaves the spinneret ...
  • Attached to the end of a tripod-like mechanical positioning system is a precision spinneret which fed ...

For its 3D Cocooner project, Festo has taken create cues of insects and arachnids which spin or weave a fluid into a solid thread to manufacture protective enclosures or traps for their prey. Objects created via the 3D Cocooner are created up of strands glued together to form lightweight structures freely in three dimensional space, as opposed to one layer at a time like 3D printing extruders.

Attached to the end of a tripod-like mechanical positioning system is a precision spinneret which’s fed a constant thread of 2400tex glass fiber roving. This system is supplied with the necessary positional data of 3D modeling software running on a connected desktop, and the spinneret handling system is in addition virtually represented in the custom software and depicted onscreen during both the create and the printing system.

As it leaves the spinneret, the 2 mm glass fiber thread is moved through a pair of rollers which apply a coating of UV-curing resin. It’s and so met by precisely-regulated UV light and hardened into a stiff rod. A tiny cutting disc slices the rod at a pre-programmed length and the spinneret repeats the system, joining rod to rod and assembling up the required structure without having to print any supports for oddly-shaped objects.

The current create offers a construction space of 450 x 300 x 600 mm (17.7 x 11.8 x 23.6 in) and a print speed of 10 mm per 2nd. The cured glass fiber is reported to boast “astonishing tensile and bending strength” and Festo says which the 3D Cocooner platform may go on to create shapes and structures not possible via current, conventional production methods.

Festo can be demonstrating the 3D Cocooner at Germany’s Hannover Messe trade show later this month, but you can see it do its thing in the video overview at a lower place.

Source: Festo


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