Evolving Together: Robotics and 3D Printing Technology


CATEGORY: 3D Services BRAND: Shapeways

The sky’s the limit in prototyping and manufacturing 3D printed robotics.

The robotics field still tends to be seen as futuristic, new, and even somewhat unknown, despite coming into inception during the 1950s. Expected to expand into an industry worth $260 billion by 2030, robotics continue to reserve a fascinating niche in the future but are already deeply and undeniably anchored in the present.





The robotics industry is expected to grow further in connection with 3D printing, a technology that is highly complementary; in fact, some consider additive manufacturing to be a robotic process in itself. Robots for manufacturing can be 3D printed, and further, they can even be used to replicate more 3D printed parts. 


As is the case with most types of digital fabrication, the possibilities are endless, and designers and engineers around the globe are taking full advantage of the benefits, whether iterating numerous parts, or manufacturing high-performance components.


Rapid Prototyping of 3D Printed Robotics

In combination with other technology like 3D printing, opportunities for advancement are infinite. For designers building models or industrial prototypes during project development and testing, 3D printing transforms the process. The road to perfecting robotics is faster and easier than ever before with 3D printing and the ability to iterate quickly–in comparison to waiting long periods of time in dealing with traditional manufacturers. Changes can be made expediently, parts are sent right back out for necessary and valuable feedback, and changes are implemented to 3D printed robotic parts in a streamlined fashion.


In this sector, every part is analyzed for printability too, ensuring accuracy and repeatability in manufacturing every single time–no matter what the scale of the 3D printed robotics–when designing full-size robots or smaller operating parts. Assemblies can be reduced too, for any type of build, whether involving a DIY project or in producing a large system which must also include 3D printed robotic attachments that grip, grab, or wield items during an automotive build or a construction project, as examples.


Developing Unique Modifications for Robotics Applications

The sky’s the limit in prototyping and manufacturing 3D printed robotics. This is quite literal too. While robotics have been put to use on the ground manufacturing for applications like the automotive industry for decades, soon we may see complex 3D printed robotics systems in aerospace, performing a wide range of tasks required during missions, as well as for performing rigorous outside duties like building habitats. The key is in continued iterating of parts, and in the ability to customize as far as the imagination–and project requirements–can go.


Other extremely important applications for robotics include a complex array of 3D printed limb replacements that can be enhanced with bionics and electronics, incorporating parts with multiple functions into one build. These types of 3D printed robotic hands and 3D printed robotic arms are usually incredibly life-changing for the recipients, and especially for children. Again, the ability to customize prosthetics is key in terms of fit and function, and personalization of items for the users, which decreases self-consciousness immensely and encourages use.


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