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

In a new paper, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) present the first-ever technique for 3-D printing robots that involves printing solid and liquid materials at the same time.

The new method allows the team to automatically 3-D print dynamic robots in a single step, with no assembly required, using a commercially-available 3-D printer.

The new approach involves “printable hydraulics,” which they believe is a step towards the rapid fabrication of functional machines.  To demonstrate their method, researchers 3-D printed a small hexapod robot that weighs about 1.5 pounds and is less than 6 inches long. To move, a single DC motor spins a crankshaft that pumps fluid to the robot’s legs. Aside from its motor and power supply, which were added after printing, every component is printed in a single step with no assembly required.

3D printed hexapod robot

MIT’s CSAIL 3D printed hexapod robot

Read more, also a video, by Adam Conner-Simons, MIT CSAIL, April 6, 2016