Scientists Can 3-D Print 'Ant-Like' Robots In Minutes, Thanks To Flexoskeleton – Research Snipers

Scientists Can 3-D Print ‘Ant-Like’ Robots In Minutes, Thanks To Flexoskeleton

Making soft robots could soon be fairly straightforward-at least if you have a handy 3D printer. Researchers at UC San Diego have invented a way to cheaply, easily and without using expensive equipment for 3D-printing insect-like flexible robots. The trick was to print “flexo-skeletons,” or 3D-printed rigid materials onto flat, thin sheets of polycarbonate. Unlike insects, there are features that only improve stiffness in specific areas — a contrast to traditional soft robots that often have soft features that are approached to solids.

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Every part of the flexo-skeleton takes about 10 minutes to print, and a fully assembled bot should be ready in less than two hours. An individual component costs less than $1-the most expensive parts are likely to be the processing power, sensors and batteries.

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This will initially help researchers quickly and easily build robots, but the ultimate goal is to mass-produce robots without human involvement. This could result in robot swarms capable of performing tasks at least as well as large monolithic machines, but with lower costs and lower risk.

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