3D printing software is already a pretty mind-blowing concept, but now researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have taken the technology one major step further.
Through their research, the lab has developed a 3D printing technique that creates a fully functional robot in a single print run. Generating more complicated animations with a 3D printer has typically required several runs to accumulate all the necessary parts for assembly, but the time-consuming process has been drastically reduced with MIT’s new approach, which now only requires the addition of a motor and a battery.
In order to accomplish this, the CSAIL modified a commercial 3D printer to function more like a traditional inkjet printer. So as it moves, the printer deposits the liquid plastic that is selectively hardened using a blast of UV light, along with another liquid material that works as hydraulic fluid.
The new 3D printer has already created a (sort of terrifying) six-legged robot insect that has the ability to crawl using the power of its 12 hydraulic pumps. The research and alterations to the 3D printing technique mean that, very soon, we won’t just be printing new machine parts, but rather entire replacement machines.
See the technique in action, courtesy of MIT’s CSAIL, below.