3D Inkjet Printing System Creates Strong, Soft Robotic Grippers
Researchers from MIT, Inkbit, and ETH Zurich have developed a new 3D inkjet printing system that works with a much wider range of materials. This multimaterial 3D printing system utilizes computer vision to scan the 3D printing surface and adjust the amount of resin each nozzle deposits in real-time to ensure no areas have too much or too little material, resulting in a faster and more efficient printing process.
Contact Free and Superior Materials
The system utilizes a contactless process to expand the range of materials that can be used for fabrication. It uses a vision-controlled jetting technique with high-frame-rate cameras and lasers to scan the print surface continuously. The computer vision system compares the depth map to the CAD model of the part being fabricated and adjusts the amount of resin being deposited. This level of control enables very precise printing with wax as a support material and allows for the use of thiol-based materials, which are more elastic and stable over a wider range of temperatures than traditional acrylic materials used in 3D printing.
Complex Devices and Future Applications
The researchers used the system to create complex devices such as a tendon-driven robotic hand, a six-legged walking robot, and a heart-like pump. The printing system opens up the possibility of using new types of materials and exploring new application areas, such as fabricating customizable medical devices, semiconductor polishing pads, and even more complex robots. This innovative 3D printing system is set to revolutionize the field of robotics and materials engineering.