3D printing is enabling all sorts of advancements in design and prototyping, and now some German engineers are leveraging the technology to produce low-cost, potentially disposable robotic spiders.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart hope to use selective laser sintering (SLS) to create small, low-cost robots that look and walk like spiders. Using elastic drive bellows that generate pressure and pump fluid into the devices’ legs, the robotic arachnids can crawl and jump very much like the real thing.
The Fraunhofer team can generate interchangeable, modular parts for the robots using the 3D printers, increasing flexibility and lowering cost significantly. Thin layers of polyamide powder are applied and melted in place, allowing the group to produce “complex geometries, inner structures and lightweight components.” Leg modules can even be designed with variable load-bearing characteristics. According to the Fraunhofer website: Continue reading
Headed to London this year? If so, be sure to stop by the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum to check out the Power of Making exhibit. Power of Making is a free V&A and Crafts Council exhibition that engineers are sure to be inspired by. Curator Daniel Charny’s aim is to encourage visitors to consider the process of making, not just the final results.
All knowledge about making was once new. Someone, sometime, had to formulate it. But there is a big difference between established, ‘traditional’ forms of making and those which are innovative. Both are crucially important, and both can be expressive, but they serve different purposes. — V&A website
One process for making that design engineers are particularly keen on is additive manufacturing. A shoe created with an Objet Ltd. 3D printer by avant-garde shoe designer, Marloes ten Bhömer will be on display at the exhibit, which runs until Jan. 2, 2012. The “Rapidprototypedshoe” is designed and manufactured in a modular way so that it can be dismantled and reassembled for the purpose of replacing parts.
“My work is very much about liberating design – I use new materials and methods because this helps to break away from conventional approaches,” ten Bhömer explains in a press statement. “The rapid prototyping process stimulated the idea for this shoe, as the name suggests. I explored the technology and saw that rapid prototyping – adding material in layers – rather than traditional shoe manufacturing methods – could help me create something entirely new within just a few hours.”
Source: Objet press release