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3D Printing Durable Robots with Complex Structures

New tech allows seamless crafting of durable robots with bones, ligaments, and tendons, in a single process.

Thomas Buchner : Eth Zurich
THOMAS BUCHNER / ETH ZURICH

According to a recent EurekAlert! article, researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a 3D printing technology that expands the possibilities of soft robotics by making it suitable for slow-curing polymers. The advancement allows for the creation of more durable and robust robots with enhanced elastic properties. The technology combines 3D printing with a laser scanner and a feedback mechanism, enabling the printing of complex objects with a variety of high-quality materials in one go. The slow-curing thiolene polymers used in the process have good elastic properties, making them ideal for producing elastic ligaments in robotic structures. 

The researchers successfully printed a robotic hand with bones, ligaments, and tendons in one operation. The technology, developed in collaboration with the US start-up Inkbit, offers advantages over previous methods, as it eliminates the need for scraping uneven layers and allows for real-time adjustments during the printing process. The team aim to explore further possibilities and applications of the technology, while Inkbit plans to offer a 3D printing service and sell the new printers.

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