Category Archives: 3D Printing

Robots are going soft in their new age…

This month researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) shared a way to 3D print robots with advanced shock absorbing materials, so that robots can be safer to use and more accurate in their movement.

It uses a Programmable Viscoelastic Material (PVM) that allows the originator of the 3D print file to program the movement and elasticity of each area of the design.

It’s particularly interesting when you think about ‘soft robots’ being created for use in exoskeletal rehabilitation, my knee replacement in a few years just got much more appealing…

But more importantly it really demonstrates just how quickly robotics is moving forwards, we have robotic caterpillars that use liquid crystal elastometer tech, a walking soft robot  and as if that wasn’t enough check this little guy out…

autobot

Octobot is the first autonomous, untethered entirely soft 3D printed robot!

The Harvard team behind this derived a way to power the Octobot through a chemical reaction controlled through a logic board. They describe this as a ‘hybrid assembly approach’ whereby they create each of the components; circuit board, control panel, fuel storage, power component and fabricate the cushioning exterior using; 3D printing, molding and soft lithography methods.

Mind bending.

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in a heartbeat

I’ve always been excited about the possibilities with 3D printing, since the first time I worked with a team to print a fairy (yes you read that right), the wings were like lace, the clothing detail challenged the needlework of the mice in The Tailor of Gloucester and it took minutes to be born from the model we sent to print.

But that feels like nothing compared to the evolutions in the last few months so I just had to share my recent favourites:

In at 3, the first missile by researchers at Raytheon Missile Systems, who are celebrating the fact 3D printing gives them the freedom to make design alterations with much less hassle and cost. 

3D-printed-missile-by-Raytheon-Missile-Systems

At 2, the cancer patient who had his sternum replaced with a titanium implant printed by Anatomics. They partnered with a surgical team to custom design the area that needed replacing so the surgeon could be targeted and precise in removing only what was necessary, safe in the knowledge the replacement part would be an exact fit.

Image found on digitaltrends.com - thank you

And my top spot goes to the guys at MIT who worked with doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital to turn an MRI scan of a heart into a 3D model which was then printed and implanted.

3D printed heart

My heart just skipped a beat. 

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Wake up and smell the hex reference!

Augmented Reality currently taps into our audio and visual senses, but how long before it covers smell as well?

I’m a big F1 fan but can’t afford tickets to fly around the world and experience the sensational atmosphere. So imagine if I could bring the squeal of the tires and the smell of burning rubber, the sound and smell of rain as it hits the hot tarmac, into my living room…

Imagine you’re waiting in a stuffy airport lounge and you can be transported to the first day of spring, the smell of cut grass in the air, you pick a virtual flower and smell it’s scent…

Imagine you’re Skyping your best friend from New York and she’s cooking a bacon sarnie in the background and you can smell it too…

If we could decode the molecules of odour, similar to how we break down colour into wavelengths and sound into pitch and frequency then this could be achievable.

A perfumer creates a palette with thousands of molecules to create a scent, so if each molecule had a reference – just as we have RGB hex references for colour coding that form pictures on a screen – assuming the recipient had the equivalent hardware to release the combination of references creating the scent, then in theory we could send smells alongside pictures and images.

Let’s take it a step further, what if we could digitise taste? Imagine if you could script a cake and send it to a 3D printer…

Hershey’s and Barilla have already trialled printing using chocolate, cookie dough and sugar (you can read more here) so again, once we have the breakdown of molecules and a reference for each… you get where I’m going right?

I could also have the taste of burnt rubber on the tip of my tongue (tastes good with a cold beer I promise), create the taste of a Lindt chocolate bunny to go with spring and 3D print my bestie’s bacon sarnie.

Right, who’s got the HP?

rabbit 3D printer

Just imagine that rabbit is a strawberry cake…

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