3D Printed Robots with Extraordinary Features

3D Printed robots have been growing in popularity very quickly over the past decade. These extraordinary machines with equally extraordinary features are helping people to create useful, eco-friendly, and affordable items.

Each robot that is created with 3D printing technology is incredibly complex and is created to do specific tasks and make specific types of items using specific materials. As advancements continue to develop, these robots are able to do more and more extraordinary tasks. It is entirely feasible that within the next decade, these robots will be created to complete twice as many tasks as they are currently able to do today.

3D Printed Octopus Robot from Harvard

Photo: Lori Sanders / HARVARD UNIVERSITY

This 3D printed octopus robot from Harvard is the first robot that is completely autonomous, fully untethered, and entirely soft in texture. It is a 3D printed robot, called the octobot, that is created by expert Harvard University researchers that have exceptional understanding in the areas of 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics. The functional components within the 3D printed soft robot body include: the fuel storage, the power, and the actuation required to carry out the duties required of the octobot.

The design of the soft body 3D printed robot is modeled after the octopus. The octopus is an extraordinary creature that is very strong and has incredible dexterity despite having no internal skeleton. The octobot is powered pneumatically, meaning that it powered by an internal gas that is released under pressure. The robot transforms a very small amount of hydrogen peroxide into an extraordinary amount of gas that is used to inflate the arms of the octobot.

Little else is currently known about the Octobot. This soft bodied 3D printed robot is currently under experimentation and is being run through trials. Updates can be expected as the robot continues to develop.

3D Printed Robot with Shock Absorbing Skin

The 3D printed robot with shock absorbing skin is made with programmable viscoelastic material from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This particular material is created to allow users to control each and every aspect of a 3D printed object. These aspects and features include, but are not limited to: exact levels of stiffness and exact levels of elasticity.

Because these 3D printed robots are soft, they are expected to be able to perform actions more precisely than traditional 3D printed robots. The precision of movement and dexterity would help to increase the life and durability of drones, phones, shoes, helmets, and other everyday items. The skin on this robot allow the robot to absorb shock much more efficiently than other 3D printed robots. The skin also allows the robot to land four times more precisely than previous models and could be used to improve the life and precision of other robots currently sold by Amazon and Google.

Each of these 3D Printed robots with shock absorbing skins are extraordinary because they are created using conventional 3D printing techniques and technologies. The team of producers used a standard 3D printer, and a material called TangoBlack+ which is composed of a solid, a liquid, and flexible rubber components. Combined, these materials make up both the cube-like body of the robot and the skins that are used to improve the robot. The process involves depositing drops of material in layers, and then using UV light to solidify the non-liquids.

In its entirety, this 3D robot is comprised of a rigid body, a battery, a microcontroller, a looped metal strip, two motors, and inertial measurement unit sensors.

Bicycles – New Options with 3D Printing Technology

Bicycles are second only to motor vehicles when it comes to traveling short distances. Not only are bicycles a wonderful source of exercise, they are affordable and leave a very small carbon footprint. This is precisely why more people are choosing bicycles as their primary source of transportation in an effort to reduce greenhouse gasses on Earth.

The world of 3D printing technology has made great strides in the last decade. More and more objects are being created using 3D printing because they are cheaper, more efficient, and tailored to fit individual’s needs.

What Are the Benefits of Creating Bicycles with 3D Printing Technology?

There are a multitude of benefits that accompany the 3D printing of any object. An object that has been produced with 3D printing technology is customized to the very minute detail to meet the user’s needs. A bicycle, for example, may need to fit a certain height or weight requirement in order to be accepted. A certain design or aerodynamic characteristic may be desired or required for a bicycle to be accepted. Whatever the case may be, customization is one of the largest benefits of 3D printing technology.

Items that are printed using 3D technology are generally created quickly and with very little error. The bicycle is custom made so that it has a one-piece frame and tires. The fact that there are not a hundred tiny pieces that must be created and then shipped to a central location factor into the quick turnaround time for the creation of a 3D printed bicycle. Conventionally, the delay on one piece could halt the production of a bicycle indefinitely.

The carbon footprint left behind by creating a 3D printed bicycle are much smaller than that of a bicycle produced conventionally. Again, the bicycle is printed in one piece. This one-piece design eliminates the necessity of having to have multiple plants mass producing multiple bicycle pieces. When there is no need for a myriad of bicycle plants, then the impact that a plant has on the environment decreases significantly.

Are There Success Stories Out There from Those Who Have Built 3D Printed Bicycles?

Yes, there are a handful of success stories out there that are told by individuals that have created bicycles using 3D Printing Technology. Below are two examples of recent success stories.

The Belgian 3D printing company Materialise and the Italian automotive brand Nuova SPA recently partnered together to create a unique 3D printed Bicicletto e-bike. This duo was motivated to make the bicycle lighter, faster, and more cost-efficient to manufacture. The partners are proud to put forth a bicycle that blends the need for innovation with the love of classic design.

MX3D partnered with Dutch students from Delft University of Technology to create the Arc Bicycle using a combination of 3D printing technology and a welding process. Robotic arms act as 3D printers that require no stabilization and welding ultimately completes the process. MX3D worked with these students in an effort to perfect the technology that they plan to use on their bridge project. The students involved in this process were deeply motivated by the need to make a functional, every-day item that would ultimately contribute to a more sustainable environment.

3D Printed Individual Prosthetics Help Patients

Traditional prosthetics are very expensive and bulky. Each prosthetic that is made can cost an individual anywhere from 5 thousand dollars to upwards of 120 thousand dollars making these devices completely unaffordable to many people in need. This problem is made far worse for those that can manage to afford a prosthetic when the individual outgrows that prosthetic and needs another one that fits more appropriately.

If a child or infant is in need of a large prosthetic such as a leg, that prosthetic could require repair or replacement every 6 months to a year for the first few years of their lifetime. Even those that are finished growing will need to replace their prosthetics every 5 years as prosthetics simply wear out with constant use. 3D printers could stop this cycle of expensive and painful suffering. As 3D printing techniques and printers are becoming more readily available, traditional prosthetics are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Benefits of 3D Prosthetics Over Traditional Prosthetics

Many children are born with defects or suffer tragic accidents that change the course of their lives completely. Some children are born without limbs or with deformities that interfere with their ability to live a normal, happy, healthy lifestyle. Other children are born in perfect health with all of their limbs, but suffer partial or full amputation due to gangrene, frostbite, car accidents, home accidents, or “freak” illnesses.

Children are naturally inquisitive individuals whose only job in life is to explore their surroundings and develop motor skills, social skills, and cognitive skills. This job is often frustrating for a child whose parents cannot afford an expensive prosthetic. This is where 3D printed prosthetics help a child to be themselves. This is where 3D printed prosthetics help any individual to be themselves.

Devices for Lower Budgets

3D printed prosthetics are merely a fraction of the cost of traditional prosthetics. Many of these devices can be purchased for less than one thousand dollars. Other devices are donated or available for a lesser fee to families that are facing financial hardship. These prosthetics do not take weeks to create like other traditional prosthetics take to process.

An individual will still be able to get that custom fit that is offered with traditional prosthetics, but will only have to wait a few hours for their 3D printed prosthetic to be finished. Parents, spouses, family members, and even friends may even be able to afford a 3D printing device to create the prosthetics that their loved one needs to function. These printers have been known to cost as little as 200 dollars. If a family can print their own prosthetics, then they will not have to pay a labor or materials fee to have another individual create the prosthetic for them.

Children and other individuals may even have a say on what colors are used in the process. These 3D printed prosthetics are created individually with a custom fit for each person that needs one. The hidden benefit of having these items 3D printed comes in the form of customization.

An Extremely Challenging Material – 3D Printed Ceramics

Ceramics are one of the most complex, highly sensitive, and difficult materials to work with when it comes to 3D printing. These complexities and sensitivities truly make ceramics what they are- beautiful, strong, and resistant to such things as corrosion or rust. It is no wonder scientists and engineers are excited that ceramic material can be and will be used in the future.

3D printing technologies and techniques are used to create many different types of objects that are currently being used today. These items range from simple hammers and nails to homes and shelters that are structurally sound. The 3D printer takes an image that is in 2D and transforms it into a 3D object that can be used. 3D printers can print objects in materials such as plastic, metal, ceramics, chocolate, and living cells. Many individuals truly enjoy all of the possibilities that these 3D printing devices promise to bring.

What Are the Promises and Problems Associated with 3D Printed Ceramics?

Ceramic material is very strong and can withstand a great deal of pressure and weight. These materials are beautiful and can be given any sort of finish from matte to shiny- this quality plays a huge role in creating objects that are heavily judged for aesthetics. Ceramics also have an incredibly high melting point meaning that structures that are built using ceramic material can be subjected to high temperatures without the fear of having the structure fall apart or melt. Because the ceramics that are used in 3D printing are created with a resin instead of a powder, the structure is even further reinforced and reliable.

Each of the qualities listed above could also prove to cause problems when printing with ceramics. Ceramics are strong, especially when made with resin instead of power. This will mean that in an emergency, it will take an exceptional amount of force to break the structure. If the ceramics are created with power, then the likelihood of the ceramics cracking under extreme cold are very likely. Unlike materials like plastics and metals, ceramics do not melt very easily because of its high melting point. This makes ceramic material very difficult to reshape once it is created. Ceramics are a very beautiful material to work with, but this material cannot be used in every situation that the typical metal or plastic could be used in.

What Are the Possibilities associated with 3D Printed Ceramics?

The possibilities that are associated with 3D printed ceramics are nearly endless. Ceramics can be printed in a variety of shapes such as honeycombs and spirals. In certain situations, this would mean that insects and animals such as the honey bee could be provided a temporary safe home that mimics what the organism would have normally created on their own.

Ceramics could be used in hypersonic aircraft vehicles and microscopic devices. These devices require parts and pieces that must be resistant to rust, corrosion, high heat, and abrasion. Plastics generally cannot withstand any sort of extreme heat, and metals are very susceptible to rust and corrosion. That is why ceramics are very promising in these fields. Ceramics can be printed far more quickly than metals and plastics during the traditional 3D printing technique. Not only are ceramics known to be strong and desirable, ceramics can simply be printed faster. When items can be printed more quickly, the demand for these items can be met more easily.

3D Laser Scanning and Modelling for Heritage

3D printing and scanning have been on the rise over the past decade. More individuals are recognizing the many benefits that these techniques are able to present to researchers, scientists, engineers, and the average individual. As science continues to fine tune these devices and improve 3D scanning techniques, then the face of the world and its understanding of history could drastically change. With inaccuracies and guesses for how certain items would have looked out of the way, the understanding of history will change.

3D scanning is a highly complex and accurate process. When an item is scanned with a 3D scanner, a fine laser light is shot into the space where the hidden or obscure item is located. The laser light traces over 100 % of the surface of the object recording up to 750.000 different points that are quickly connected to recreate a 3D image of the object.

That 3D image is sent to the 3D scanner where engineers and scientists analyze the object, its purpose, and its origin. Once that data has been collected from the 3D scanner and confirmed, scientists may then decide to use the information that they have obtained to 3D print the object that they have 3D scanned.

How Are These Techniques Used to Model for Heritage?

It is estimated that a significant number of historically important artifacts are located in areas that are hard to reach. Some of these objects are located deep inside of Egyptian tombs. Some of these objects are located at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Many of these objects have yet to have been uncovered. Scientists estimate that the majority of artifacts are safer where they are located and could be damaged irreversibly if unearthed. That is why 3D scanning and 3D printing are so important to scientists. These scientists can use lasers to reach and trace these hard-to-reach objects. Once they are traced, they can be printed for scientists to examine and understand them.

Many objects are recreated with 3D technology to understand their historical significance. These models can be put on display and used in museums to teach future generations about the various cultures and heritages of certain areas of the world.

Myths About 3D Scanning

3D Printing and 3D Scanning are relatively new developments in the world of technology. 3D printing and 3D scanning have only been in existence for about a decade and are therefore still under investigation by those that do not understand the technology.

3D Printing and 3D scanning are not at all magical. There are hundreds of thousands of brilliant minds working out the details regarding the use and construction of 3D printing technology. Because the techniques and construction involved are so complex, many individuals do not understand how they could possibly work.

3D Scanning and 3D printing do not harm the environment. The lasers used are fine and do not cause harm to the objects that they scan. If these lasers caused harm, scientists and engineers would not be using the technology to discover and recreate ancient objects of historical significance. If these individuals were to use harmful techniques, then the objects would be lost in time forever. 3D Scanning and 3D printing are, to date, the safest way to see these objects without disturbing them.


Images courtesy of Trigonart.com

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New Shoes That Only Fit YOU

Shoes are an item of luxury to many individuals around the world. To others, shoes are an absolute necessity needed to protect the feet from diseases and conditions like frostbite, gangrene, and trench foot. In any case, almost every individual on Earth knows what shoes look like, what shoes function as, and what difference shoes can make for those who are on their feet often. Few individuals know that shoes can be 3D printed or what those shoes are capable of doing.

3D printed shoes are shoes that have been created using 3D printing technology. When an item is 3D printed, a machine traces a pattern into an open space using a material such as plastic, metal, or rubber. A design is created by the user, put into a 3D printing machine, and the printer’s laser will both trace and fuse the product. The machine’s laser traces over itself in layers until the desired project has been completed.

Why Create 3D Printed Shoes?

3D printed shoes may simply seem like a luxury item with little value aside from its apparently costly production. 3D printed shoes can offer users far more than just a sense of luxury.

3D printed shoes are created individually for each person and each foot. No two shoes will ever be created in exactly the same way. Those that have created this 3D printing technology understand that feet can even vary in size from one side of the body to the other. In fact, many individuals have feet that are slightly thicker, wider, or longer than the half sizes available to them by many shoe brands. That is why the 3D printed shoe has come into existence.

The 3D printed shoe will eliminate the aches, pains, and complications that are typically credited to the “breaking in” of a brand-new pair of shoes from the store. The creators of this product aim to eliminate painful or hazardous shoes from the market in favor of the shoes that are custom fit for customers. These 3D printed shoes can even be made stronger and lighter for athletes and other active individuals.

The 3D printing concept for shoes is actually quite simple. A customer will enter their shoe store, assuming that that store has adopted this 3D printing technology, have each foot measured, have each foot photographed from various angles, and then the shoes will be 3D printed right in front of them. This custom fit technology makes a brand new, custom-fit pair of shoes available for every customer in a very short amount of time. The 3D printing process is even advanced enough to take information about the individual’s height, weight, and level of activity into consideration as the shoes are being constructed.

3D printed shoes can even be created with a medical purpose in mind. 3D printing can make these shoes orthopedically accurate for certain individuals with medical needs. This process is designed to alleviate pain associated with conditions like collapsed arches and other foot imbalances.

Next Level 3+1: 4D Printing

The future of technology is bright with the early engineering behind Next Level 3+1: 4D Printing technologies. These structures are also known as the early models of 4D printing technological devices. Researchers are currently working out all of the kinds that are found with the 3D printing technology currently in existence. While the current 3D printing technology itself is still in its infancy, researchers, engineers, and scientists are exploring the opportunity to create an even more advanced set of 4D printing devices.

What Makes the 4D Printer More Advanced than Its Predecessor?

3D printing devices are very complex. These machines can convert a 2D image into a 3D object using arms and lasers that work to build layers of material on top of itself. 3D printers are able to build objects as large as buildings as well as objects as small as handheld tools. These printers can even print items like shoes that are tailored to each individual foot and biocompatible structures that can be implanted into the body for reconstructive purposes. It may be difficult to conceptualize that any printing machine could accomplish even more, but 4D printing technology does just that.

The 4D printer is modeled after flowers such as the orchid and the calla lily. These beautiful plant structures are more than pretty flowers to view or smell. These plants are capable of movement and are able to adapt to their environments. Calla lilies and orchids are very sensitive and are known to be receptive to the smallest of changes in temperature, humidity, and sunlight. Scientists are exploring the benefits of being able to manipulate the objects that are printed with a 4D printing device.

Tools for Doctors, Engineers and Many More

These scientists believe that doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals would benefit from being able to fully manipulate the objects that they use in their practices. This may mean that the tools that a surgeon would use in the operating room would be able to more accurately differentiate between healthy tissue and infected or cancerous tissue that must be removed. If a surgeon were sure that they have removed 100 % of the unhealthy tissue, then this would prevent further surgeries and speed up the process of healing. This may even mean that individuals are completely cured of the ailment that once plagued them. For these reasons, the 4D printer would be valuable to the medical profession.

4D Printers could be used in contexts other than the medical profession. These printers are able to move, shape-shift, and respond to changes in their environment. This would mean that these objects could be used to signal natural disasters of a great variety. These 4D printed objects would be able to retrieve objects that are in water, under water, on land, or in the air that otherwise could not be retrieved. Scientists, engineers, and skilled technicians even have high hopes that these objects would be able to transform the way electricity is conducted or how clothing is created. Designers theorize that there will be a future in smart textiles. Smart textiles are items of clothing that can transform based on humidity, on temperature, and even on requested permeability.

Build a House in Only One Day – 3D Printed Houses

The idea of having a 3D printed house is no longer as farfetched as it has been in years past. Experts state that 3D printing will be the staple of the upcoming technological revolution. It is therefore important to understand what 3D printing technology is and how it can be used to better the lives of all humankind.

3D printing is the process of taking a 2D image and turning it into a 3D object. A high-tech computer takes the 2D image that has been entered and repeatedly traces that image into an open space using thin layers of a specified material. These materials vary from metal to plastics. Each time the 3D computer traces the 2D pattern over itself, the material that is printed is reinforced. Objects of any shape, size, design, or strength can be created with the help of the right 3D printer and materials.

What Are the Benefits of 3D Printed Houses?

The benefits of 3D printing are still under investigation. Manufacturers believe that 3D printing could open the doors for safe and affordable housing in areas of natural devastation. These 3D houses can be printed in as little as 24 hours. This means that temporary housing can be made available while the devastated area is reconstructed. This 3D printed housing option may also serve as a more permanent residence in areas of the world that suffer from overpopulation and lack of housing.

Houses that are created using a 3D printing technique can be taken down as quickly as they are put up. This is an especially useful feature when the occupants move into a more permanent housing establishment, such as would be the case when natural disaster victims move back into their reconstructed homes.

3D printed houses can be redesigned in a quick and efficient way. The materials used to create the 3D printed houses can be recycled completely. Once a house is torn down, then the material is recycled and rebuilt into another 3D printed house. This could easily solve problems like having to replace a weak or damaged wall. The owner or designer of the home may wish to change the texture or the design of the home, and would be able to do so with a 3D printed house.

Cheap and Modern Houses for Everyone

3D printed houses are relatively affordable to create. A 100-square foot 3D printed house can be created in 24 hours. This means that the bill for labor is limited to as little as just one day. Not only can these houses be built quickly, but they can also be created with just one laborer. Only one person is required to load the material into the device that builds the 3D printed home. That means that just one person will need to be paid for labor unless the job is split between a team of members. The materials used to create the 3D printed house are readily available and easily recyclable. When materials do not need to be shipped in from international sources, then the cost tends to be lower for materials.

The entire 3D printed house can be printed on the spot. This will eliminate the need to create portions of the house elsewhere and have them shipped into the construction site. Accidents can be avoided, and construction delays are less likely when the entire process of building the house takes place in one location.

If 3D printed houses encompass each and every one of the benefits listed above, then the cost of manufacturing a home could be cut by as much as 90 %.

3D Print Is Not Limited to Plastic – Interesting Opportunities with Metals

3D metal printing is a process that is quite similar to 3D printing in its original form. 3D printing is traditionally a process that uses a biodegradable material like plastic to create structures or objects like houses or building structures. In other words, 3D printing is the process of taking an image or drawing that is in 2D and recreating that same image in 3D. 3D metal printing only differs in that 3D metal printing uses metal instead of another type of biodegradable material.

3D printing is the process of taking an image or drawing that is in 2D and recreating it in 3D. A giant computer and printer trace over an open space with fine metal material over and over again until the designer sees fit. This printing process can be used to print both small and large 3D objects out of metal in a relatively short amount of time.

How Can 3D Printing Be Used to Advance Humankind?

The possibilities with 3D metal printing are limitless. Metal is a special material that can be soft or sturdy. Certain metals can conduct electricity very well while others are weak conductors. This means that the metals used in 3D metal printing can be varied to meet the purposes of the projects they are meant to create. When a process can be adapted to meet the user’s needs, the project is both efficient and precise. That efficiency and precision is what can be used to advance humankind.

3D metal printing has been used to create solid tools, reinforced metal structures, and strong machines. Items that are 3D printed in metal can even be created so that they have less parts than the typical machine. When there are less parts to a machine, then there are fewer chances of the machine breaking or malfunctioning when stress is put on a certain point of that machine. When tools and everyday useful items are created to be stronger and more efficient, then they last longer. When an item lasts longer, fewer materials are needed to create mass numbers of its weaker counterparts.

What Are Other Benefits of Choosing 3D Metal Printing Over Conventional Methods of Construction?

3D printing in metal allows for customization as the designer or customer see fit. As stated above, some metals are pliable but weak, and some metals are strong but not pliable. This means that sturdier materials would not lend themselves to customization very easily when constructed conventionally. 3D metal printing will allow the designer to create a very sturdy structure without having to sacrifice custom features or designs that he desires.

Standard items can be adapted to fit individual needs. Any metal item, such as a hammer, can be lengthened, widened, shaped, or bent to fit the needs of the individual using it. So, while these items can be conventionally created in mass quantities, it makes sense for users in unique situations to have a metal item 3D printed to fit his needs.

When items are 3D metal printed, the environment benefits. This is because there is no need for large pieces of machinery or factories to produce the 3D metal printed items. When there are fewer factories and chemically-laden processes, then there is a smaller carbon footprint left behind.

Living Objects – 3D Bioprinters

3D bioprinting is a technique that is very similar in many ways to traditional 3D printing techniques and 3D metal printing techniques. The general concept of 3D printing involves converting an image that is in 2D into an object that is in 3D. 3D bioprinting takes this general concept one step further. 3D bioprinting involves taking meticulously adding “pores” to the material that is 3D printed so that blood vessels and tissues can grow into and accept that 3D printed object as an object that is supposed to be a part of a living organism’s body.

3D bioprinting is currently successful in growing tissues like ears, jaw bones, and other bone fragments that can be used in reconstruction procedures. These 3D printed biostructures are often accepted into the body once they are implanted because the “pores” inside of the 3D printed structure allow for blood and nutrients to flow freely.

How Exactly Do 3D Bioprinters Work?

3D bioprinters are incredibly complex. There are a few different types of bioprinters depending on the demands that are expected of them, but all bioprinters utilize a bioprint head that strategically place cells as they are printed. That bioprint head works in a similar way to other 3D printers in that they are able to move upward, downward, left, right, backward, forward, and every direction in between.

This freedom of movement allows the bioprinting head to place cells so that there are tiny holes left throughout the structure to account for the blood flow that will hopefully reach them. 3D bioprinters place cells in layers along with a dissolvable gel that helps to protect the cells during construction. After a few hours of this layering process, the structure is complete and is ready for insertion. The structure is placed under the skin of a rodent and is left to grow for weeks to months before the new structure can be harvested for use in a human patient.

What Are 3D Bioprinters Capable Of?

3D bioprinters have been successful in creating a range of small pieces of cartilage and bone. While the trials for these biostructures are still in their infancy, they seem to be working very well. These studies are currently performed on rodents and do not have much trial testing on humans yet. Researchers have noticed that when these structures are printed with pores and inserted into the skin of rodents, the rodent’s body begins to supply blood and nutrients to that structure. Within weeks to months these structures begin to function as they were intended to do.

3D bioprinters are not yet able to print larger, more complex structures such as the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs. These structures are in high demand as there are few of these precious organs that available for the many thousands of people waiting on transplant lists around the world. Scientists and engineers have high hopes that the 3D bioprinter will be able to print these important organs in the near future so that many more lives can be saved.