Robots are often designed with very specific tasks in mind. But what happens when you want a robot to be adaptable? Taking on the daunting task of coming up with a robot that can rise to whatever challenges it encounters, a team over at the Bio-Inspired Robotics Laboratory (ETH Zurich) have been making progress that could have serious implications in the world of digital manufacturing.
Utilizing Hot Melt Adhesive (the same HMA that we’ve all burnt our fingers with when using a handyman glue gun), their robot is able to create tools from scratch. It then makes use of these new devices to successfully complete tasks that it was otherwise unable to perform.
The following video gives an indication of where things are currently at. Although the process is similar to 3D printing, the team are quick to point out why they have chosen HMA rather than the usual thermoplastic materials. It all comes down to adaptability. A traditional 3D printed tool needs to be grasped/held/attached in some way. With HMA, the printed tool can be glued to the robot itself, and actually becomes a part of the machine. No need for graspers or fixing mechanisms. (more…)
An experiment in bio-mimicry and alternative power sources.
Alex Villanueva and a team of researchers primarily from Virginia Tech University are developing Robojelly, a biomimetic robotic jellyfish. It is intended as a self-propelled surveillance vehicle. It is modeled as closely as possible on the appearance and propulsion method of a moon jellyfish. (more…)
New hand held digital milling device from the MIT media lab!
The FreeD hand held rotary tool appears to be the offspring of a CNC mill and a hand held dremel tool. This freehand modelling tool was developed by Amit Zoran and Joe Paradiso of the Responsive Environment Group at the MIT Media Lab for model makers and designers to easily create models beyond the constraints of CAD packages. (more…)
2012 may be the year of 3D printing: Lisa Harouni on TED
We may be preaching to the converted, but for those who still aren’t convinced (or maybe even aren’t aware) of just how exciting 3D printing is, this recent TED talk gives a neat overview.
The speaker is Lisa Harouni, CEO of Digital Forming. Having specialised for a number of years pioneering software development for 3D printing applications, she is well placed to convince even the most sceptical of viewers that we are indeed on the cusp of a manufacturing revolution.
Embracing the sculptural beauty of machines in motion
Hot on the heels of this year’s Best of the Blog in Art post comes this mesmerising clip from filmmaker Ralph Steiner’sMechanical Principles, a 1930’s masterpiece in which the inner workings of all kinds of devices are revealed.
Taking a moment to appreciate the sculptural qualities of decidedly practical devices unveils the poetry inherent in their movements. It’s quite hypnotic, and well worth sitting back to contemplate (and indeed enjoy) over your morning coffee.
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk” – Thomas A. Edison
I believe Mr Edision was suggesting that inventions are created when someone’s imagination sees value in something no one else perhaps would. 2011 was certainly an impressive year of bringing physical form to those imaginations.
As the inventions category fit within many of the other categories we’ve featured on Best of the Blog 2011 so far, you can expect to see some familiar favourites…
The Panoramic ball camera is a playful exploration into novel ways of taking photos. You throw the ball up in the air – at the apex of its throw it takes a photo, or a lot of photos in every direction! Genius, where can I get one?
Skallops is a new building system by Evan Murphy, Michael Woods, and Marshall Grinstead that uses small laser cut wooden clips to hold together standard playing cards. The clips are designed in such a way as to allow the cards to be connected in as many ways as possible. You can even connect two Skallops to each other back-to-back.
The system is about as simple as it gets, which usually means it has been carefully designed. The project still has a month to go on Kickstarter, but it is already fully funded by a considerable margin.
Whether it’s laser cutting, 3D printing, or simply craftsmanship at its finest, there has been much to be amazed and inspired by here on the Ponoko blog over the past calendar year. We’ve gathered together (in no particular order) ten noteworthy Functional Art & Objects posts from 2011.
Professor John Balistreri from BGSU talks through this groundbreaking research project, demonstrating the ability of 3D printing to create complex ceramic forms that are impossible to produce using traditional techniques. Amongst other things, you can check out how they are duplicating handmade objects by incorporating the use of a 3D scanner.