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.