3-D Printed Robots Are Getting Solid and Liquid Insides Thanks to Scientists at MIT

Source: MIT CSAIL
Source: MIT CSAIL

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, or CSAIL, have developed a technique that allows for them to 3-D print robots with both solid and liquid materials. "Printable hydraulics" is a breakthrough in 3-D printing because it sets a precedent for functional machines that don't require extra assembly, which is great news for lazy people yearning for the day that robots can do their chores anyone who needs a robot to complete a complex task.

Read more: It's Finally Possible to 3-D Print Human Tissue — Here's How It Could Change Medicine

"All you have to do is stick in a battery and motor, and you have a robot that can practically walk right out of the printer," Daniela Rus, director of CSAIL and one of the co-authors of the study, said.

Adam Conner-Simons explains that liquids were a "big hurdle" when it came to 3-D printing. "Printing liquids is a messy process, which means that most approaches require an additional post-printing step such as melting it away or having a human manually scrape it clean," Conner-Simons wrote for MIT. "That step makes it hard for liquid-based methods to be employed for factory-scale manufacturing."

With CSAIL's technique, the 3-D printer's inkjet creates layers by incrementally depositing droplets of material that are thinner than the width of a human hair. Each layer can contain both photopolymer (a solid material) and non-curing material (which remain liquid); the parts of a robot that should be solid are then exposed to a high-intensity UV light. 

Additionally, this technique allows for 3-D printers to print softer, more flexible materials, which can be used to create bellow actuators allowing for hydraulics movements and mobile parts.

In the same vein, softer materials can be used to create "fingers" capable of gripping.

Watch CSAIL's video demo below:

Source: YouTube

h/t Wired

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Andrew Leung

Andrew was an editorial fellow at Mic. He is based in New York and can be reached at aleungnyc@gmail.com

MORE FROM

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.