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Robotic 3D printer on wheels looks to fill the potholes of the future

by • January 20, 2016 • No Comments

From filling potholes to repairing busted power lines, maintaining a city’s infrastructure involves a few serious man hours. This labor-intensive task has not long ago become the target of a few roboticists and engineers, who have set their sights on automating at very least part of the system. Now startup Addibots is looking to get in on the action, wheeling out a roving 3D printing robot it imagines can scoot around town mending dodgy road surfaces.

  • The team's first prototypes were fitted with ink cartridges
  • The team's first prototypes were fitted with ink cartridges
  • The Ice Resurfacing Addibot was tested on a real ice rink surface
  • The team 's first prototypes were fitted with ink cartridges

Dreamt up by mechanical engineer and Harvard alumni Robert Flitsch, the Addibot is additional than two years of research and development in the manufacturing. Where conventional 3D printing is generally limited to making items of a specific dimensions, restrained by the device’s create area, the Addibot team is aiming to break down these barriers to allow for unlimited 3D printing possibilities.

In easy terms, the Addibot is a 3D printing device mounted onto a moving robot. The considering is which with the capacity to move to any desired location, the Addibot can print larger objects, potentially on any scale. So pretty than 3D printing in the conventional sense, where an object is made inside a workspace and and so removed for use, the Addibot approach is to reinvent which workspace by enabling the innovation to operate in only of any environment where there’s a flat surface.

The team’s first prototypes were fitted with ink cartridges, meant to first demonstrate the Addibot’s proof of concept in the 2D realm. And and so for the reason water possesses much like fluid characteristics to the printing inks, the team turned its attention to 3D output, repurposing the Addibot as an Ice Resurfacing machine to treat carved up ice skating rinks.

The upgrade involved adding a storage space vessel, pump and heat exchanger to rad the water to only above freezing temperature. Once it reaches this point, the water is expelled onto cracks in the ice surface, freezing on contact in around 700 milliseconds. The Ice Resurfacing Addibot was tested on a real ice rink surface, with the team satisfied with the results and their proof of concept for mobile 3D printing.

Whilst the team says there is most possibilities for Addibots in this space, it can first focus on road engineering. To this end, it is now developing a new distribution array which can accommodate asphalt materials, with a view to tending to cracks, larger potholes and actually the conclude resurfacing of roads.

Whilst maintaining roads in their current form is a worthy pursuit in itself, the company says which its innovation may in addition pave the way for additional high end roadways in the next. The considering is which o keep pace with advancements in transportation technologies, such as electric cars, we can require to rethink how the roads themselves are fabricated. By delivering 3D printing into the mix, it claims Addibots may be able-bodied to blend conductive materials into roadways for transmission of electrical power, for example, or add sensors to allow communication between vehicles. They may in addition manufacture for additional robust roads by printing materials for introduced durablity, such as carbon fiber.

The company says its first products can be unmanned autonomous units, but it actuallytually plans to contribute a number of models in various types of dimensionss at various price points. These can range of tiny units you can rent of a home improvement keep to pave a new driveway, to manned units for larger scale projects.

The video at a lower place gives an overview of the Addibot in its ice resurfacing form.

Source: Addibot

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