Top 10 of the best 3D printed robot projects
The additive manufacturing technology is actually taking technological experimentation one step further. It is becoming possible to print more and more advanced projects. 3D printing robot projects is now a reality. It is a great solution to work on robots design, to create new functionalities and to develop mass customization. We will see what all the advantages of using additive manufacturing are in the robotics field.
In this blogpost, were are going to see how 3D printing is actually a great tool to create robot projects. We also made a great selection of the 10 best 3D printed robot projects that have been made recently all around the world! You may think that it is only possible to print a robotic arm or leg, but you will see in this article that it is now possible to 3D print a whole robot.
3D printing mechanical or electronic projects
Additive manufacturing allows to go one step further
More than just production or prototyping of any objects or consumer products, 3D printing enables to manufacture parts or whole electronic projects. We saw recently on our blog what it is possible to make with a 3D printer, where we noticed that the applications of the 3D technology are more and more diverse. Machines or electronic devices are now 3D printable. For example, we know that it is becoming possible to 3D print a 3D printer, showing that it will become possible to print other manufacturing machines in the future, such as milling or excavating machines.
For the moment it is possible to print the frame of these machines, as it is composed of plastic or metal. Using techniques such as SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) allows to get a 3D printed frame for these machines.
Using 3D modeling software to create electronic parts
Some 3D modeling software could actually be helpful for your projects, to work on designs, or for visualization. You can also use it to design for 3D printing. CAD software are really becoming essential for researchers or engineers to create accurate 3D designs.
Software such as Inventor or Solidworks are specially made to work on technical parts and could totally help you with this kind of projects. In the world of robotic, a good mechanical design is really the key of the success of the project, and some professional modeling software could help you to get great results! Creating great and efficient design files could really improve your prototyping or production process.
The advantages of 3D printing robots
New designs to create new functionalities
3D printing and robotics put together are creating promising projects. Even if it is not possible for the moment to get a fully 3D printed humanoid robot, but this technology is actually a great tool to prototype and work on innovative designs, allowing to create new functionalities. Indeed, we will see in some following examples that some of these 3D printed robots developed new functionalities or eased some existing processes, thanks to the work made on their design. The Kengoro project is the perfect example.
Using a 3D modeling software makes the design process efficient and easier. Working on 3D design is really convenient, faster than any other method, as it is really easy to make any modification. It allows to get a technical overview of your robot and will allow you to adjust some parts before the manufacturing process.
Mass customization in the robotics field
You will see that among all of these examples, a lot of them are allowing mass customization. A lot of researchers, engineers or designers are creating open source 3D models made to print robots. Their goal here is really to create a project that could belong to anyone and be adapted to anyone’s expectations, as the users can modify it if they want to, and then print and assemble the robot. Additive manufacturing is allowing mass customization and most of these researchers are creating simple but efficient projects, in order to make these robots accessible to anybody.
One of the biggest advantages of 3D printing it is cheaper to get a customized item using this manufacturing process. It is a way to get adapted objects. For example, it is really well used in the medical industry to get custom made prosthesis. But it can be used in other sectors as well, and the robotics field could be one of them!
What are the best 3D printed robot projects
3D printing is allowing to print more and more different projects and new 3D printing materials are now available on the market, making it possible to manufacture new innovative projects. That is why there are a lot of amazing 3D printed robot projects emerging. Here is a selection of the most impressive 3D printed robots.
3D printed humanoid robots
Kengoro: the 3D printed robot that sweats
Kengoro is one of the advanced robotic projects created with 3D printing, elaborated by some researchers from the University of Tokyo. This robot is unique and has a particular innovative functionality: it is sweating when it does push-ups. Kengoro has a cooling system, just like humans.
This system is made possible thanks to additive manufacturing and the possibilities allowed by this technology to create a brand new design. With its 108 motors, the robot needed obviously an efficient cooling system, but adding another mechanical part inside of the robot also means adding more mass and it is not really convenient if you want your robot to move easily.
A complex structure has been 3D printed, it is created from metal with different permeability levels, small gaps and tunnels, allowing the water to escape. Indeed, they used metal 3D printing. Using aluminium with a laser sintering method allows to work on the structure to create high or low permeability.
See how this robot behaves in the video below:
Poppy humanoid: An advanced 3D printed robot
This robot has 3D printed parts. It is an open source project created by Matthieu Lapeyre during his studies. The goal of this project was to study embodiment, morphology and biped locomotion.
They are showing that it is possible to create projects that can be adapted to the needs of customers. With this project, Matthieu Lapeyre also encourages to go further, to add new features or functionalities to this Poppy humanoid.
This project can be used for diverse applications, such as education or researches about technologies. It can be a great method to learn about robotics and computer science. Moreover, making it 3D printable make it accessible to anybody in schools for example.
If you want more information, you can check the website of the Poppy project.
The PLEN2 is another example of an open source project, printable by anybody. This has been created by Natsuo Akazawa. This is a 20 centimeters tall 3D printable robot. This robot is interesting as it is quite small and it is able to walk, dance or play. It can be controlled with a smartphone or a PC. 3D printing is the only way to make this kind of projects accessible to anybody.
InMoov is one of the most impressive 3D printed robot. Indeed, it is a lifesize robot. It has been created by Gael Langevin, a french sculptor and designer. He already had experiences with 3D printing, such as a 3D printed hand prosthesis, he knows all the benefits of additive manufacturing during the manufacturing process of a project.
It is actually the first lifesize robot that is 3D printable. This robot is really impressive, because of its size, but also because it has fluid and human-like movements. All of its parts are articulated, even its fingers, which also have sensors. InMoov really behaves like a human. It could even be replacing humans for some tasks in the future.
3D printed animal robots
Additive manufacturing is also allowing to create soft robots! This advanced robotic project takes the form of an octopus. Octobot is an example of soft robotic, it has no rigid components, it is fully made with 3D printed silicone. How does this robot even moves?
Gas is actually making this Octobot moves. Instead of electricity or batteries, a chemical reaction happens when fuel meets the platinum ink and creates a gas that makes the soft robot move its tentacles.
The octobot is actually a 3D printed pneumatic system. Here is a video introducing the octobot:
Robirds: 3D printed birds
Here is a 3D printed robotic bird developed by the Dutch company Clear Flight Solution. It will be useful to deplace birds from certains areas, such as airports. These 3D printed birds are flying and looking like real birds.
These Robirds are like 3D printed drones that are wing flapping such as birds. This system can totally be used to scare off birds. Additive manufacturing has been used because this manufacturing technique is giving a lot of freedom to designers and engineers, it is a good solution to bring complex designs to life.
3D printed robotic insects
3D printed BionicAnts
These 3D printed ants are really impressive, first, in the way they look: they have a lot of details and really look like ants. But they also behave like ants! These robots are able to communicate and coordinate their actions. They have cameras and sensors, that enable them to locate the objects and communicate with the others 3D printed ants. These ants can team up and move objects.
This project developed by the german company Festo is allowing to go further regarding intelligent components. “ANT” also refers to “Autonomous Networking Technology”. They used 3D-MID (modeled interconnect device), a technique allowing to inject electrical systems.
Here is a demonstration of what these amazing 3D printed ants are able to do:
Xpider, the 3D printed spider
Here is a 3D printable robot that doesn’t have a humanoid look. Indeed, it is a spider robot with a camera, that enables you to see the world from a different angle. This has been made by Roboeve, a team of people passionate about robots in China. They actually use 3D printing to get a lightweight structure. They made a lot of different iterations to get to this result, it would have been really expensive to use another manufacturing technique to create the prototype of this robot.
Once again, the team is allowing anybody to print it or to make all the modifications possible.
T8X Spider, the other printed spider
The 3D printed robotic spider is an impressive and creepy project. The 3D printed spider really looks and moves like a real spider. It can move its legs independently. As for the previous robot example, this 3D printed spider is able to communicate with the other 3D printed spiders.
It is an advance robotics system, that can be used for researches in the world of robotic.
Other 3D printed robots
These robots are not only animal or humanoid 3D printed projects. Here is an example, made by engineers from the University of California in San Diego. They created a walking robot thanks to additive manufacturing.
These kind of robots could be used for rescue efforts in the upcoming years. Thanks to its flexible legs, this robot can go anywhere and can cross rough areas. This robot can totally walk in the sand for example.
As you can see, 3D printing enables to create amazing projects when it comes to electronic projects of mechanical engineering. There are a lot of 3D printed robots created for mass customization. The will of the creators is to give the possibility to anyone to improve these projects or to adapt them to their needs.
3D printing and robotics are definitely a great combination. People owning a 3D printer at home can easily 3D print these on their own. But you could totally use these files to get professional 3D printing via an online 3D printing service such as Sculpteo, you don’t have to buy 3D printers. As we offer various 3D printing materials, you could create really impressive results, using strong or flexible materials.
You want to create your own 3D printed robot project and your already have all your stl files? You can upload your 3D files right now!
If you want the latest news about the 3D printing industry, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Credit photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKtHCFToYPY