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Robotics 3D-Printed robotic hand with functional tendons and muscles unveiled.

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In a groundbreaking development, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and MIT have unveiled a 3D printer that transcends traditional limitations, giving rise to lifelike robots with fully functional tendons and muscles. This revolutionary 3D printing technology introduces a paradigm shift, enabling the creation of intricate systems that seamlessly blend bendy and rigid materials.

Unlike conventional 3D printers that rely on fast-curing plastics, this innovative device harnesses the power of slow-curing polymers. The result is a robotic hand, complete with bones, ligaments, and tendons, showcasing the potential of this technology in the realm of soft robotics. The slow-curing polymers offer superior elastic properties, allowing the printed structures to quickly return to their original state after bending—a feat unattainable with fast-curing plastics. The key to this transformative process lies in a 3D laser sensor array developed by MIT researchers, enabling the printer to “see” and adjust for irregularities in real time during the printing process. This eliminates the need for post-curing imperfection scraping, streamlining the production of intricate and lifelike robotic components.

Thomas Buchner, a lead author of the study and robotics researcher at ETH Zurich, emphasizes the significance of using slow-curing polymers: “We wouldn’t have been able to make this hand with the fast-curing polyacrylates we’ve been using in 3D printing so far.” The technology offers improved flexibility, making it suitable for applications ranging from prosthetics to industries requiring robots to handle fragile goods. The potential applications of this 3D printing breakthrough extend to prosthetics, where soft robotics can offer enhanced safety and comfort. The advantages of robots made of soft materials, as demonstrated by the 3D-printed hand, include reduced risk of injury when collaborating with humans and increased suitability for handling delicate objects.

As this technology paves the way for more complex structures, researchers envision a future where 3D-printed soft robotics play a pivotal role in various industries. Commercially available through a startup called Inkbit, this 3D printer marks a significant evolution in the world of additive manufacturing, bridging the gap between rigid and flexible structures and shaping the future of robotics.

By Alex Wilkins. 15 November 2023. 3D-printed robotic hand has working tendons and muscles.

Reviving a ‘Supercar.’

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In a groundbreaking endeavor, an average Joe, known as Backus, is rewriting the rules of automotive restoration by embarking on a journey to completely rebuild a wrecked McLaren 600LT. What makes this project extraordinary is that Backus is not turning to a high-end dealership or a renowned tuner but is relying on the power of 3D printing to bring the supercar back to life. Equipped with a Sermoon D3 Pro 3D printer, which comes with a relatively accessible price tag of around $3,000, Backus dives into the intricate process of recreating body panels. In his latest project update, he showcases the 3D-printed front fenders, lower front fenders, a side scoop, and the rear end of the side skirt. While the fitment appears satisfactory for a home build, Backus acknowledges the need for additional work, including the fitting of steel cages to reinforce the compromised structure.

To ensure precision, Backus employs software like Grabcad to align the dimensions of the 3D-printed parts with the factory shape of the McLaren 600LT. However, not all components are 3D-printed; some crucial parts, such as AP Racing brake calipers and slightly damaged suspension arms and hubs, are purchased. In a nod to the 600LT’s performance legacy, Backus plans to integrate a formidable twin-turbo LS1 powertrain capable of generating an impressive 600 horsepower. However, concerns linger about the strength of the 3D-printed bodywork, especially in the event of another collision, given the potential compromise to the monocoque design. While the exterior transformation is in progress, the interior remains untouched, leaving room for further development. Backus, no stranger to 3D printing automotive feats, previously crafted a 3D-printed replica of the Lamborghini Aventador, showcasing his expertise in blending technology and automotive passion.

As this ambitious 3D-printed rebuild unfolds, questions arise about the durability and safety of the reconstructed supercar. With plans to take the McLaren 600LT on track days, the DIY enthusiast faces the challenge of reinforcing safety and rigidity. The project highlights the evolving role of 3D printing in automotive restoration and raises intriguing questions about the intersection of technology, craftsmanship, and the future of DIY automotive projects.

Wrecked McLaren 600LT Is Being Rebuilt Using 3D Printer. Story by Rex Sanchez  •  1d. Wrecked McLaren 600LT Is Being Rebuilt Using 3D Printer.