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Quick Tech News

QuickTechnics

by Alexander Fäh

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Revolutionary Advancement in 3D Printing Facilitates Bionic Soft Robotics

 
  • A new 3D printing system enables the combination of soft and rigid materials in soft robotics.

  • The printer adjusts the material amount in real-time, allowing the use of robust, slow-curing polymers.

  • Researchers have already successfully printed a soft robotic hand with different polymers for bones, ligaments, and tendons.

 

Researchers Develop Novel 3D Printing System for Elastic Materials in Soft Robotics.

Breakthrough in 3D Printing: Soft Robotic Hand with Different Polymers for Bones, Ligaments, and Tendons.
Breakthrough in 3D Printing: Soft Robotic Hand with Different Polymers for Bones, Ligaments, and Tendons.

Researchers have developed a groundbreaking 3D inkjet printing system that makes it easier to combine soft, elastic, and rigid materials for soft robotics. The innovative printer uses computer vision to automatically scan the 3D printing surface and adjust itself accordingly.


3D inkjet printers use thousands of tiny nozzles to deposit minute droplets of resin. Usually, these droplets are then smoothed with a scraper or roller and then cured with UV light.


The new system ensures that areas have the right amount of material contact-free by adjusting the amount of resin each nozzle deposits in real-time. This makes it possible to use slow-curing polymers – which have enhanced elastic properties and are more durable and robust than fast-curing ones.


Using this technology, researchers have successfully printed a robotic hand with bones, ligaments, and tendons made of different polymers in one go.


“We wouldn’t have been able to make this hand with the fast-curing polyacrylates we’ve been using in 3D printing so far,” explains Thomas Buchner, a PhD student at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.


Professor Robert Katzschmann, professor of robotics at ETH Zurich, adds: “Robots made of soft materials, such as the hand we developed, have advantages over conventional robots made of metal. Because they’re soft, there is less risk of injury when they work with humans, and they are better suited to handling fragile goods.”

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