3D PRINTING IN ROBOTICS

Robots- they are a powerful tool to learn and be creative. Until recently, the possibility of building robots was limited to very few technologically advanced companies. With the availability of 3D printing in the market, it is becoming more practical and easier to design and build robots. 3D printing is making Robotics a possibility for more and more inventors out there.

Designing a robot before manufacturing is a very crucial step. The biggest advantage of designing using a 3D printing software is that it allows one to create a model easily, efficiently and fast. Also, required modifications can be made at any given time before the actual printing of the robot or robot parts- without any additional costs!

Around the world today, many robot projects have been created which used additive manufacturing, i.e. 3D printing as the means of production. Here are some amazing applications of 3D printing in robotics, and their uses across different industries:

This is a humanoid robot built to study embodiment, morphology and locomotion in humans. Its parts have been produced using 3D printing.

Since the robot has been assembled using 3D printed parts, it is possible to add new functionalities or features to its design, simply by designing and printing out new parts. Different designs of the humanoid would cater to different applications- be it in teaching robotics at school or research about locomotion in the human body.

A life-size robot, with advanced hand movements. Its movements are fluid and human-like. In future, these robots have the capability to replace humans in labour-intensive tasks.

This robot is 3D printable, and its designs can be modified on a 3D software according to the tasks it needs to perform. Researchers, inventors and educators can benefit in several ways with the 3D printing technology to build this robot.

Animal bots are next on the list of robots that have been 3D printed!

Small spider robots that move and walk like real spiders- are a product of 3D printing. These bots can interact with each other and can be used to study advanced robotics and movement in spiders.These can even be fit with small cameras to record thing swhile moving. This feature can be used for security purposes in an institution or building.

The movements of this robotic spider can be seen here.

3D printed ants, based on a natural model, exhibit traits and perform tasks like real ants! The body parts, networking circuits and cameras (sensors), are all 3D printed.

A number of these ants can communicate with each other and coordinate their actions. This allows ants to move an object in their surroundings. Modifying the size of these ants can be done to produce giant versions of robotic worker ants to push or pull objects much heavier than their own weight.

Another fascinating example of an animal robot made by 3D printing is the RoBird.
These birds are made with very realistic features, have been designed to fly and flap their wings like a real bird.

A more real form of scarecrows, these Robirds can be used at Airports to scare away other little birds that fly around the runaways (coming in the way of airplanes about to take-off or land).

These birds can also be used at waste management facilities to scare away wild birds flying over garbage.

The combination of 3D printing and Robotics has a great use in Mechanical engineering, and students of the subject can benefit from cost-effective and customisable creations. Students can apply their machine design knowledge and dedicate time to learning how to use the fabrication tools available to them.

Handy machines and robotic limbs are among the many things mechanical engineers have created using 3D printing. Such 3D-engineered tools and prosthetics have found application in healthcare, without the investment of huge amounts of money!

This is a 3D-printed exoskeleton designed to help stroke patients with lack of finger movements to regain mobility in their hands.

This is a 3D-printed robotic hand for amputees. The robotic fingers are designed to mimic the movements of a real hand- to perform basic tasks with ease.