Help of 3D printing for robots!

http://time.com/3957156/3d-printing-robot-help/

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How 3D Printing Helps Robots Tackle Their Greatest Obstacle

One of the main challenges for robots is still traveling efficiently over rugged surfaces.

We’ve long attempted to recreate living creatures in robot form. From the very early age of robotics, there have been attempts to reproduce systems similar to human arms and hands. This has been extended to flexible and mobile platforms reproducing different animals from dogs to snakes to climbing spider octopods, and even entire humanoids.

One of the key actions performed by animals from mantises to kangaroos is jumping. But incorporating a jumping mechanism into autonomous robots requires much more effort from designers. One of the main challenges for robots is still travelling efficiently over rugged surfaces and obstacles. Even the simple task of going up or down a staircase has proven to be rather difficult for robot engineers.

A jumping robot could provide access to areas that are inaccessible to traditional mobile wheeled or legged robots. In the case of some search-and-rescue or exploration missions, in collapsed buildings for example, such a robot might even be preferable to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or quadcopter “drones.”

There has been increasing research in the robotics field to take on the challenges of designing a mobile platform capable of jumping. Different techniques have been implemented for jumping robots such as using double jointed hydraulic legs or a carbon dioxide-powered piston to push the robot off the ground. Other methods include using “shape memory alloy” – metal that alters its shape when heated with electrical current to create a jumping force – and even controlled explosions. But currently there is no universally accepted standard solution to this complex task.

A new approach explored by researchers at the University of California San Diego and Harvard University uses a robot with a partially soft body. Most robots have largely rigid frames incorporating sensors, actuators and controllers, but a specific branch of robotic design aims to make robots that are soft, flexible and compliant with their environment – just like biological organisms. Soft frames and structures help to produce complex movements that could not be achieved by rigid frames.

The new robot was created using 3D printing technology to produce a design that seamlessly integrates rigid and soft parts. The main segment comprises two hemispheres nestled inside one inside the other to create a flexible compartment. Oxygen and butane are injected into the compartment and ignited, causing it to expand and launching the robot into the air. Pneumatic legs are used to tilt the robot body in the intended jump direction.

Unlike many other mechanisms, this allows the robot to jump continuously without a pause between each movement as it recharges. For example, a spring-and-clutch mechanism would require the robot to wait for the spring to recompress and then release. The downside is that this mechanism would be difficult to mass-manufacture because of its reliance on 3D printing.

The use of a 3D printer to combine the robot’s soft and hard elements in a single structure is a big part of what makes it possible. There are now masses of different materials for different purposes in the world of 3D printing, from flexible NinjaFlex to high-strength Nylon and even traditional materials such as wood and copper.

The creation of “multi-extrusion” printers with multiple print heads means that two or more materials can be used to create one object using whatever complex design the engineer can come up with, including animal-like structures. For example, Ninjaflex, with its high flexibility could be used to create a skin or muscle-like outer material combined with Nylon near the core to protect vital inner components, just like a rib cage.

In the new robot, the top hemisphere is printed as a single component but with nine different layers of stiffness, from rubber-like flexibility on the outside to full rigidity on the inside. This gives it the necessary strength and resilience to survive the impact when it lands. By 3D printing and trialling multiple versions of the robot with different material combinations, the engineers realised a fully rigid model would jump higher but would be more likely to break and so went with the more flexible outer shell.

Once robots are capable of performing more tasks with the skill of humans or animals, such as climbing stairs, navigating on their own and manipulating objects, they will start to become more integrated into our daily lives. This latest project highlights how 3D printing can help engineers design and test different ideas along the road to that goal.

time.com

by July 14, 2015

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19 year old creator of cheap robotic arm controlled by brainwaves

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/19-year-old-uses-3d-printing-to-create-cheap-120454888024.html

19-Year-Old Uses 3D Printing to Create Cheap Robotic Arm Controlled by Brainwaves

For Easton LaChappelle, a 19-year-old from Colorado in the United States (U.S.), the difficulty with robotics has never been the technology itself – something he says he managed to master in a matter of months from his bedroom in his parent’s house – but the cost.

The technology used by most robotic arms and hands on the market – and many more of those in development – typically comes with large overheads.

In the last five years, though, learning almost exclusively online in forums and emails, LaChappelle has managed to synthesize a series of robotic hands that could change industries and lives – and most of which cost just a few hundred dollars.

While other developments in countries like Austria and Argentina have pushed the boundaries of prosthetic offerings, helping those missing limbs to start to regain use of them with robotics, LaChappelle has done so using 3D printing.

And he’s made one that he says can read your mind. It’s called Anthromod.

“This reads right about 10 channels of the brain, so it kind of works kind of like a muscle sensor in that it picks up small electric discharges and turns that into something you can actually read within software, and then we actually track patterns and try and convert that into movement. So with this I’m actually able to change grips, grip patterns, based on facial gestures, and then use the raw actual brainwaves and focus to actually close the hand or open the clamp or hand,” he told Reuters Television.

One of the most important aspects of the Anthromod design is the way in which it’s controlled by the software, which LaChappelle says is different from the types of control that exist in other robotic platforms.

While it’s the hand itself that moves, as more advanced controls are created it’s the software that’s doing the heavy lifting, using algorithms that make the arm easier to use.

“A good example is we actually had an amputee use the wireless brainwave headset to control a hand, and he was able to fluently control the robotic hand in right around about 10 minutes, so the learning curve is hardly a learning curve any more,” he said.

The arms themselves might not look polished and ready for the shop floor – but LaChappelle sees them as cutting edge.

His robotic arms are all prototypes, each fulfilling a different need according to their design, with some using a wireless brainwave headset, designed more for prosthetic use. Another of his tele-robotic controlled hands was created with dangerous environments in mind, where human-like robots could be sent to allow people to monitor situations and intervene from afar.

“I really tried to make this as human-like as possible – this is probably about my fifth generation of the full robotic arm, and this is controlled using a full tele-robotic system, so there’s actually a glove that you wear that tracks your hand movements, accelerometers to track your wrist and elbow, and then an IMU sensor as well to track your bicep rotation as well as your shoulder movement, and that gets all translated wirelessly to the robotic arm where it will copy what you do,” he said.

One of the most impressive aspects of the arm is not the hardware itself, or even the software that controls it – but the fact that it can be 3D printed for a fraction of the cost of modern prosthetics.

This allows him to make complex internal structures to the designs which would otherwise be impossible, using not just any 3D printer, but precisely the kind many expect people to have at home in the near future.

“So 3D printing allows you to create something that’s human-like, something that’s extremely customized, again for a very low cost, which for certain applications such as prosthetics, is a really big part of it,” he told Reuters.

“The full robotic arm is actually open source, and so people are now actually able to take this, reproduce it, and adapt it for different situations, applications, and really see what you can do with it,” he added.

The Anthromod itself cost only about 600 dollars to make, LaChappelle said.

His work is documented in the videos he made at home, showing his handiwork – all part of his effort at making the invention open source – which means anyone can take his technology and customize and build on it.

The idea, he said, is not to create something that can solve problems for those with prostheses and other needs for robotic arms like the ones he’s invented – but rather to create a platform that people around the world can use to customize their own versions of to suit their needs.

“A big reason we designed this on the consumer level is because we made this open source, we want someone that has a 3D printer, or very little printing experience, to be able to replicate this, to be able to use this for new applications, to be able to adapt it into new situations, so it’s really exciting to see what people will start doing with something like this,” he said.

“For the actual arm, we designed everything to be modular, meaning all the joints can actually interchange, and there’s a universal bolt pattern. So you can now create something human-like, or you can create a big 20 degree freedom arm for complex filming or even low cost automations. So we really want to make a robotics platform, not so much just a robotics hand from this,” he added.

LaChappelle hopes his efforts will contribute to developments in bomb defusal robots, heavy equipment and heavy industrial automation robotic arms, as well as exoskeletons.

yahoo.com

3D printed Star Wars prosthetic arm

A Young American Received A 3D Printed Gift That Transformed His Life

http://goo.gl/K3X0BL

Nearly every young boy is obsessed with Star Wars. But for Liam Porter of Augusta, Georgia, a Star Wars obsession may actually be warranted — he’s got a mechanical limb like many of the characters in the galaxy far, far away.

The 7-year-old was born without his left arm below the elbow, and his family has struggled for years to find a prosthetic that he could be proud of and is able to use with ease.

On Saturday, his life changed when Liam was greeted at his local movie theater by people wearing Star Wars costumes and given the best gift he could ever dream up: a functional new prosthetic arm like that of Luke Sykwalker himself. The prosthetic was made using 3D printing technology, according to the Augusta Chronicle, the newspaper that first reported the story.

Liam’s prosthetic is the brainchild of John Peterson, who recently acquired a 3D printer and was searching around the web for nifty projects he could do with it to occupy his time.

Peterson happened upon e-NABLE, an online community of 3D-printing geeks who volunteer their technology — and time — to make prosthetics for people in need, especially kids. Volunteers from the organization work with professional designers and engineers, and open-source schematics for free to anyone who wants them.

Using 3D technology has strong advantages in this case. Many insurance companies do not cover costly prostheses for children because they will quickly outgrow them. While a standard prosthetic hand for child may cost upward of $9,000, a 3D printed version can be made for just a fraction of that amount. It took Peterson about three months to make Liam’s new limb at a cost of about $300.

Along with the his new arm, the local group of costumed Star Wars enthusiasts presented Liam with a helmet and a “Friends of the Garrison” 501st Legion certificate, which makes his Stormtrooper appointment official.

The Force is certainly proud of Liam.

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