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3D-Printed Hydraulic Robot Walks Away When Complete
Researchers at MIT"s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) introduce the first-ever technique for 3D printing robots that involves printing solid and liquid materials at the same time. The new method allows the team to automatically 3D print dynamic robots in a single step, with no assembly required, using a commercially-available 3D printer. "??Our approach, which we call "??printable hydraulics,"?? is a step towards the rapid fabrication of functional machines,"?%9D says CSAIL Director Daniela Rus. "??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."?%9D To demonstrate the concept, researchers 3D printed a tiny six-legged robot that can crawl via 12 hydraulic pumps embedded within its body. With "??printable hydraulics,"?%9D an inkjet printer deposits individual droplets of material that are each 20 to 30 microns in diameter. The printer proceeds layer-by-layer from the bottom up. For each layer, the printer deposits different materials in different parts, and then uses high-intensity UV light to solidify all of the materials. The printer uses multiple materials, though at a more basic level each layer consist of a "??photopolymer,"?%9D which is a solid, and "??a non-curing material,"?%9D which is a liquid.
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