Many of you may have already picked up or seen an object made on a 3D printer and realized how innovative this invention is. However, we ask ourselves: how can a mold so well made be produced using a simple thread? Today, we are going to show one more incredible application: 3D robotics. If you didn’t check our previous topics, click here.
The additive manufacturing (AM) technology is taking technological test experience one step further. It is becoming possible to print projects that used to be considered surreal. 3D printing robots can now be considered a reality. It is a great solution to improve processes, create new functionalities, and develop mass customization. We will understand the advantages of using AM are in the robotics field. We separate a large selection of the best 3D printed robot projects that have been made recently worldwide! You may think that it is only possible to print a robotic arm or leg, but you will see in this article that it is now possible to 3D print a whole robot.
For those who are entry-level at 3D printing or even for those already common with technology and are a fan of simple and intelligent projects, it is worth knowing Gyroman – an opportunity for you to study, learn and have a 3D robot with a moderately simple project!
This fun little friend recently caught the community’s attention because it can be done in different mechanisms, and all of them have been very successful.
Besides being funny, it has a very interesting story. Originally designed to be a mass-produced toy, the Walking Gyro was John W. Jameson’s creation in 1981 and patented by the giant toy seller Mattel. But, it never went to the shelves.
In the end, the patent has now expired, becoming Gyroman project a public domain. So many people can have access to Jameson’s original project, and that was Jeffrey Kerr did. He created an updated version, which can be assembled using parts made on 3D printers, taking only 85 grams of material and about 6 hours of print.
The tiny robot is very successful due to the genius of the design and simplicity of construction! Simple and very cheap to operate, it is an excellent project for assemblers of all levels of knowledge.
The Gyroman works with a gyroscope connected to two feet that move up and down. It also contains an inversion in the direction of movement that moves the feet back and forth, making the small device take steps and change the direction, moving quickly.
Considering that the movement required for a mechanism to move around is quite difficult, we can say that the gyroscope works as a very creative solution. Walking Gyro’s original design was based on the “dynamically balanced machine” principle. The mechanism depends on irregular forces controlling its center of gravity to keep it stable. In other words, you need to be on the move to stay balanced.
3D printing has revolutionized several sectors, such as engineering and architecture, for example. But one of the most recent news is the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab’s realization of the Technological Institute of Massachusetts (MIT). His researchers developed a technique for creating robots from 3D printing in a single step.
The method, called “hydraulic printing” allows printing using both liquid and solid materials simultaneously. The robot comes out with the entire structure assembled, just connecting it to the battery and the engine. According to the director of the laboratory, Daniella Rus, the new method is “a step towards the rapid manufacture of functional machines.” The robot created by the team is a 600-gram, six-inch hexapod and took 22 hours to print.
3D printer robot
A robot could build your next home. After the recent success of the San Francisco-based startup Apis Cor, a team of researchers at MIT created a mobile, stand-alone 3D printer. And to prove that the prototype works, the team had to build an igloo almost 4 meters high, 15 meters wide made of fast-defining foam – the largest structure made by a robot to date.
The team recently published their work in the journal Science Robotics, arguing that automation should reduce costs and speed construction times. Its creation, dubbed the Digital Construction Platform, consists of a large hydraulic arm mounted on caterpillar tracks. At the tip of the arm, the team installed a clamping accessory with a finger. However, it can be exchanged for several different tools, including foam and thermoplastic extruders, a welder, a water hose, or a bucket. Instead of relying on fossil fuels, the entire system of just over 36 tons is powered by solar energy.
This configuration makes the Digital Construction Platform ideal for construction projects in poor areas or remote regions of the world, especially when combined with MIT’s other 3D printing programs, such as Foundry software and materials. However, the platform still needs further development before starting to work on real-world buildings. The team wants to install proximity sensors, for example, to prevent the machine from hitting structures or people as it moves over the job site. They should probably address the issue of “not making right angles” as well. You wait to see the evolution.
Intel customizable functional robot – Jimmy the robot
During the Code Conference event, Intel CEO Brian Kzranich brought a robot companion to the stage and announced something very interesting: the fact that people can build their robots with the aid of 3D printers – and, of course, more some external components. Named Jimmy, the robot that was shown at the Code Conference, can walk, talk, move his arms, dance, and even perform some tweets.
Jimmy is the future of Intel in terms of robotics. Its parts will be made available online for free for owners of 3D printers to print and create, together with two existing kits, their robot in a, say, homemade way. The first of the kits have the estimated US $ 1,600, while the second, much more elaborate, is the US $ 16,000. The first kit will come with an Intel Edison, while the second will have a Core i5 processor.
Intel predicts that people can build their robots and customize them for less than $ 1,000 in approximately five years. Without specific dates (but confirmed until the end of the year), people will be able to download the robot parts and use 3D printers to print the respective parts. The kit itself will bring other essential components that cannot be printed, such as the batteries, the processor, the motor, and other essential parts for Jimmy’s functioning – in other words, only the skeleton of the robot printed. To stay on top of more information about the launch of the kits, follow the official website.
Since the robot in question is open source, people who want to customize their Jimmy as they wish can do so without any problems – and developers will be able to create specific apps for the robots. Ideas like translating conversations or singing along with people are some of these possible applications. The concept is that Jimmy can be configured for various functions, adapting to its owners’ style.
Brian David Johson, one of the Intel members who attended the event and introduced Jimmy, said: “It’s like a smartphone with feathers. Your robot will be completely different from mine; you will customize it and program your degree of artificial intelligence, not by having a Ph.D. in robotics, but by downloading apps”, he concluded.
Humanoid robots (made with 3D printing)
Kengoro: the 3D printed robot that sweats
Design made by researchers from the University of Tokyo. Kengoro is one of the advanced robotic projects created with 3D printing. He can be considered unique because of your particular innovative functionality: He sweats when it does push-ups. That is because Kengoro has a cooling system, just like humans.
This system is made by additive manufacturing, which allowed to create this innovative design. Kengoro has 108 motors, which shows the need for the cooling system
It was created using metal with different permeability levels and several gaps and tunnels so the water can escape. Indeed, they constructed Kengoro using 3D printing by the laser sintering method, enabling them to work on the structure to create high or low permeability.
It is also made with 3D printed parts. Poppy is an open-source project created by Matthieu Lapeyre. The project’s objective was to study morphology, biped locomotion, and embodiment.
The authors want to show that it is possible to create projects that can be highly customizable according to the owner’s needs. Matthieu also stimulates further development to add innovations or functionalities to this Poppy humanoid.
This project can be used for diverse applications and is also a great opportunity to learn about robotics and computer science. Moreover, make it 3D printed robot accessible to anybody in schools, for example.
InMoov is one of the most advanced 3D printed robot. Indeed, it is a real-life size robot created by Gael Langevin, a sculptor and designer from France. He had several experiences with 3D printing, collaborating with some projects like a 3D printed hand prosthesis. He already knows the benefits of an additive manufacturing project.
It is the first 3D printable lifesize robot. It is impressive not only because of its size but also because it contains fluids and movements like a human being. All of its parts are articulated, even its fingers, that contain sensors. InMoov behaves like a human and could even be replacing humans for some tasks in the future.
Pollen Robotics launched its highly-interactive robot Reachy in 2019. Reachy is a 3D printed robotic torso highly-adaptable that could do several funny things like play tic-tac-toe or serve up coffee, and also looking and being pretty cute.
It moves its heads with two big “eyes” to help convey emotions. Its arm, similar in size to an adult human arm, has a wide range of motion and can pick up objects.
Pollen has made Reachy’s design an open-source project so that anyone can contribute to its creation and development. Reachy’s purpose is for use in the customer service industry.
There are some purchase levels starting at the basic model with only one arm, no head included ($8,900), and ending at the complete Reachy – head and two arms($16,900).
Domus 3D Robot
In Brazil, the first company to propose the printing process directly at the construction site is Domus 3D, through its robot builder Domus. According to the company’s CEO and founder, Fernando Grim, it allows an economic standard house to be built within one day.
According to him, in high-end home construction, the cost reduction is even greater, above 50%. This is because the robot developed by the company provides greater architectural freedom: “It is possible to make curved walls as easily as a normal wall. Manually, it is necessary to make the box. With the robot, the greater the complexity of the enterprise, the greater the savings”, highlights the specialist.
The first surgery in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere using a technique called robotic laparoscopic duodenopancreatectomy was performed on a 56-year-old patient at the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo.
In the traditional method, developed in the middle of the last century to remove tumors in this organ, a horizontal cut of 25 to 30 centimeters is made in the abdomen. There is bleeding, painful, and slow recovery. In operation with the new method, only five incisions of 1 cm each were made to introduce a chamber. The great advantage of the new technique is using a robot to manipulate these clamps with high precision. Observing the image of the inside of the patient’s body on a monitor with 3D technology, the surgeon uses a kind of joystick to reproduce the movements that the robotic arms will make during the surgery.
Otto the Humanoid contains a 8 x 8 LEDs matrix to express emotions, displaying about thirty predefined mouths. It is possible for you to create your own! It can walk, dance, and be controlled through a phone Bluetooth app. There are multiple versions, including ones with arms and a mouth.
From the mind of Camilo Parra Palacio, a Spanish designer, Otto is part of the DIY project in 2014, currently based in the Czech republic. It’s an open-source platform where you can purchase kits or simply start making your own Otto. There are lots of resources, including full instruction manuals and Tinkercad files for download.
ASPIR, which stands for “Autonomous Support and Positive Inspiration Robot is another open-source 3D printed robot from our list. It was first published in 2017 by John Choi. A year after ASPIR, the second version was launched, receiving the name ASPIR V2. At 30 pounds and 4 feet tall, this robot also has a human-size and requires 22 motors to function.
Each of the 90 parts that make up its body is 3D printed and will take roughly 300 hours of printing time. If you want to try it for yourself, you’ll need the GitHub files, 51-kg spools of PLA, and a 3D printer with a build volume of at least 250 x 250 x 250 mm. You can find the full tutorial and materials list on Instructables.
SMARS is an acronym for “Screwless Modular Robotic System” and this 3D printed modular robot was meant for education and learning. It is a fact that SMARS has a minimal number of components, and it can be assembled without screws, soldering, or glue.
This cheaper little buddy has a modular design to be easily attached to different sensors and tools, and even designers create their own parts. Its inventor, Kevin Thomas, was leading this exercise and released a large number of mods. By searching for DLC for SMARS, you can find many digital designs to improve, add, or change SMARS’s functionalities.
3D printers still have many limitations. One of the biggest ones is the size of the machines, which end up limiting the printing capacity of objects, which can never be larger than the printer itself. For this reason, changing the fixed structure to a device on wheels is a brilliant idea that can bring a new general advance to this technology. 3 & Dbot, developed by the Brazilian groups NEXT and LIFE, is a kind of small robot that needs a flat surface to function. Apart from this small obstacle, the device is capable of printing products much larger than its size. To operate well, the main challenge is to develop a marking system that allows your movements to be accurate enough to reproduce a virtual 3D model. The other limitation is the height since the small 3 & Dbot would theoretically not be able to grow much more than where your printer head is. However, if the amount of printing plastic were not finite, the robot itself could print a platform for it and continue on its way to produce an entire house autonomously, even if it took years.
Pianist hand robot
She is not really an expert. But by moving only the wrist, a 3D printed robotic hand is capable of playing simple musical sequences on the piano. Developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, the piece is expected to help improve robot movements, making them more natural, at the minimum cost of energy. In an article published in Science Robotics, scientists reported that the contraption was able to reproduce different styles of instrument execution without moving the fingers independently.
The robotic hand is made up of soft, rigid materials that replicate all the bones and ligaments – but not the muscles or tendons – of a human organ. Although this limits the range of motion, the researchers found that it has a wide range, which made them very excited. In the article, scientists explain that complex movement, whether in animals or machines, results from the interaction between the brain (or controller), the environment, and the mechanical body.
3D Modeling for 3D robots
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Welcome to the 4.0 Industrial Revolution
The additive manufacturing process is becoming crucial for many market áreas such as education, medicine, mechanics, food, aerospace, and much more. The purpose and benefit of 3D printing in this subject are simple: do more with machinery, spending less time and human energy, and of course, obtain profit.
It is a fact that 3D modeling and printing are becoming something common in people’s lives too. We have a lot of examples that show us that like all of these robots. This will be very exciting, isn’t it?
Do you think that too? Do you believe people will be able to have a personal robot in their homes? Leave your comment!
If you want to read more about the 3D modeling universe, check out our blog page. There’s a lot of good themes for you to stay tuned.