Feb 8, 2015

KUKA robotic arm turned into six axis 3d printer produces self supporting floating structures

While six axis 3d printer is nothing new, they are quit rare. There have been even robotic arms hacked to print in all axis even with metal like MX3D Metal. Still I find this robot to be more aesthetic and organic in operation.
This machine prints self supporting floating structures inspired by spider webs in same ABS like most common DIY 3d printers and it is even Arduino controlled. It is based on KUKA industrial robotic arm and it is developed inside "Digital Future" project.

Project description:
"Digital Future" Shanghai Summer Workshop 2014
Instructor: YU Lei (Tsinghua) / Philip. F. YUAN(Tongji) / Panagiotis Michalatos(GSD)
Collaborator: SHI Ji / LIU Xun / LUO Ruihua / CUI Yuqi
The project, Robotic 6-Axis 3D Printing, is a highly-integrated installation combining robotic system, 3D printing technique and interactive interface. It aims to provide the designer a digital method to eliminate the line between "Designing" and "Fabricating". In this case, architects provides more than just drawings and construction notes, however, they are capable of fabricating their work quickly and precisely by themselves
Most of today's researches and applications of robotic fabrication are limited to replicating human labor and raising efficiency of manufacturing. However, in the project of Robotic 6-Axis 3D Printing, we developed a fabrication strategy learning and emulating the law of nature (referring to Chinese philosophy "师法自然 ").
By studying the material and structure performance of 3D form in nature, we figured out a way to incorporate biomimetic fabrication strategy into 3D printing process. And by designing the special robotic-end effector (Tooling) and utilizing the great flexibility and accuracy of KUKA robot system, the biomimetic fabricating process has been fully realized.
The whole process embodied the concept of "Digital Craftsmanship", which emphasis the personality of designer and allows them to closely integrated "Designing" and "Fabricating".
Here is video of the robotic craftsman in action: