Making a Mechanical Octopus with Fusion 360
Kyle Maxey posted on August 24, 2016 |
Figure 1Autodesk summer interns work on their creation at the company's Pier 9 lab. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

Figure 1Autodesk summer interns work on their creation at the company's Pier 9 lab. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

Autodesk's summer interns have done it again, building a mechanical octopus using 3D printing and Fusion 360.

Three interns—Ali Ahmed of George Washington University, Connor Freeman of UC Berkeley and Eni Asebiomo of Stanford University—teamed up at Autodesk's Pier 9 manufacturing lab to use Fusion 360 to build a project of their own design.

Using the company's end-to-end design platform, the students decided to build a mechanical octopus complete with motors that move the device's limbs. According to Autodesk, the ability for the interns to use Fusion's parametric, sculpting, analysis simulation and fabrication environments made the job of turning their idea into reality in short order.

In addition to CAD, the interns also leveraged the power of 3D printing. By using a fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer, the three young engineers were able to quickly manufacture the decidedly menacing face of the cephalopod along with its body and limbs.

Although Autodesk's summer interns learn a lot about design and fabrication during their stay at Autodesk's lab at Pier 9, the company also gains valuable insight into its software by working closely with the interns.

Now, I know that octopi have their own special place in the annals of horror. The Kraken comes to mind as a beast that I'd never want to tangle with. However, mechanical octopi could be useful outside of the chaos and disaster industries. Robotic octopi could be used in search and rescue missions, or they could possibly even be transformed into helicopters (just kidding).

Whatever uses robotic octopi might have in the real world is really up for debate. What isn't, however, is that Autodesk's collaboration with young engineers is an excellent avenue for communication between budding engineers and software design companies. By looking into the ways that young engineers think about product development, Autodesk might be able to get a jump start on new trends that might be emerging in the minds of engineers. If those ideas could be spread via CAD to the wider world, maybe design workflows and manufacturing will advance at a pace that we haven't seen before.

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