First-ever 3-D printed robots made of both solids and liquids

One reason we don’t yet have robot personal assistants buzzing around doing our chores is because making them is hard. Assembling robots by hand is time-consuming, while automation — robots building other robots — is not yet fine-tuned enough to make robots that can do complex tasks. But if humans and robots can’t do the trick, what about 3-D printers? This 3-D hexapod robot moves via a single motor, which spins a crankshaft that pumps fluid to the robot’s legs. Besides the motor and battery, every component is printed in a single step with no assembly required. Among the robot’s key parts are several sets of “bellows” 3-D printed directly into its body. To propel the robot, the bellows uses fluid pressure that is translated into a mechanical force. (As an alternative to the bellows, the team also demonstrated they could 3-D print a gear pump that can produce continuous fluid flow.)”

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