3D Printed Robotic Arm
Kyle Maxey posted on October 14, 2013 |

3d printing, robot, arm, nottingham, research, manufacturing, futureOver the last week the London Science Museum has been showcasing 600 objects created by 3D printers. While every piece in the show highlights the strength of the technology, one object, a transparent robotic prosthetic, is unique in that it offers a forecast of where 3D printing is headed.

Created by researchers at the University of Nottingham, the prosthetics is a clear demonstration of how 3D printing can be used to take manufacturing out of the “component” mind set by building systems that are printed in their entirety.

According to Richard Hague, Professor of Innovative Manufacturing at Nottingham, "You can create interwoven geometries, but they're still passive. What we're looking to do is activate those and make them functionalized. So rather than make a component you make the whole system — an example might be rather than print a case for a mobile phone you make the whole phone — all the electronics, the case, the structural aspects, all in one print."

While 3D printers have already been used to create prosthetics, Hague’s vision is a step further in complexity. If functional, embedded geometries could be printed into systems, manufacturing as a whole could be transformed.

However, to get to that point researchers will have to do a tremendous amount of work developing multi-material, extremely precise 3D printers. Fortunately, those systems may only be 10-15 years away.

Images and Video Courtesy of the University of Nottingham

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