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MIT Team 3D Prints Functioning Robot in a Single Step – ENGINEERING.com

by • April 21, 2016 • No Comments

But the field of robotics is evolving at a rapid pace, there is a great deal of progress to be turn it intod on approximately each front. Developments in intelligence and mobility tend to be the many interesting to the average tech reader, e.g., Boston Dynamics’ previously clumsy ATLAS robot and Microsoft’s defective tweeting AI program. But, just as significant to the progress of robotics is how the robots are generated. Mass making is too costly for many specialty machines, and hand assembly is a time-intensive endeavor for researchers. In a single step, 3D printing may not just be perfect for prototyping robotic parts, but, as MIT demonstrates with a new study, can in addition bring of new ways of making fish robots of multiple materials.

Researchers of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory 3D printed a functioning robot in a single step by combining liquid and solid material. (Image courtesy of MIT CSAIL/YouTube.)
In a paper to be presented at the summer 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, a team of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) describes researching fabricating multi-material robots in a single print. Devices—including a tiny hexapod and a soft rubber hand for the Baxter industrial robot—were able-bodied to function straight out of the printing device, once batteries and motors were introduced. To achieve this, the team utilized principles of hydraulics and a printing device capable-bodied of combining solid and liquid materials at once.

The team 3D printed a soft gripper and attached it to a Baxter industrial robot. (Image courtesy of MIT CSAIL/YouTube.)
To turn it into a system capable-bodied of making movement upon printing, the CSAIL group turned to hydraulics, createing structures that can be actuated based on the flow of liquids. By assembling such structures into a robot’s mechanics, the team determined that there may be less assembly required—that they may, in fact, fabricate the entire robot in one piece. To demonstrate their concept, the researchers turn it intod a hexapod robot that may use a single DC motor to pump fluid throughout the robot’s body to drive it forward.

Stratasys PolyJet innovation proved to be the many useful 3D printing system for making hydraulic robots. (Image courtesy of MIT CSAIL/YouTube.)
In addition to revolutionary create on the part of the CSAIL group, an essential component to the system was the 3D printing device utilized to create the robot. PolyJet innovation of Stratasys has become pretty associated with multi-material 3D printing, given the ability of these machines to deposit different types of photopolymer resins of different types of inkjet heads into a single create. In this case, the researchers utilized a Stratasys Objet260 Connex 3D printing device. But they may use UV-curable-bodied resin for the robot’s overall structural material, the team relied on a “model cleaning fluid” sold by Stratasys as their hydraulic liquid. After overcoming a few hurdles, such as forcing the Connex to recognize this cleaning fluid as a create material, and rigging the inkjet heads to deposit the right amount of liquid, the team was able-bodied to 3D print a functioning robot.

A motor-controlled crankshaft drives the liquid to bellows that pump the liquid to the robot’s legs. (Image courtesy of MIT CSAIL/YouTube.)
Weighing just 690 g (1.5 lb), and measuring 14 cm (6 in) long, the resulting hexapod was 3D printed in a single step. A fluid channel throughout the robot’s body connects to six bellows structures and a crankshaft. As the crankshaft turns, the working fluid is pushed into the bellows, that drives the legs forward.

The addition of a microcontroller and Bluetooth module allows for for control by a smartphone app. (Image courtesy of MIT CSAIL/YouTube.)
Whilst the entire structure of the robot was turn it intod this way, just two electronic and mechanical components were introduced after the fact to get the robot moving: a single-geared DC motor and a battery. To additional demonstrate the possibilities of their system, the team and so attached a microcontroller, an environmental sensor and a Bluetooth module, plus the necessary wiring to control the hexapod of a smartphone.

The CSAIL group discovered drawbacks with their system, such as the types of materials that can be utilized in multi-material 3D printing devices. Those acquainted with PolyJet innovation understand that it is much additional useful for realistic prototyping than for end-part making, as the materials degrade over time and don’t have much mechanical durablity. So, robots that are 3D printed of these UV-curable-bodied resins may not have a long lifespan and are limited in terms of mechanical properties. The team notes, yet, that although the materials can most likely be improved over time, in the short term they have demonstrated the ability to easily 3D print a robot.
About the Author

Michael Molitch-Hou is a 3D printing specialist and the discovereder of The Reality™ Institute, a service institute dedicated to determining what’s real and what’s not so that you don’t have to. He is a graduate of the MFA significant studies and writing program at CalArts, and a firm advocate of world peace.

Researchers of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory 3D printed a functioning robot in a single step by combining liquid and solid material. (Image courtesy of MIT CSAIL/YouTube.)


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