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Setting sail into the future the world’s largest 3D Printed boat, 3Dirigo revolutionizes maritime manufacturing.

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A team of researchers from the University of Maine has propelled maritime manufacturing into a new era with the unveiling of the 3Dirigo, the world’s largest 3D-printed boat. Garnering recognition from Guinness World Records for the largest 3D printed solid part, boat, and 3D printer, the 3Dirigo weighs 2.2 tons and boasts a length of 7.62 meters, showcasing the transformative power of large-format polymer 3D printing. The project, designed on a 30 x 6.70 x 3-meter 3D printer developed by the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center in collaboration with Ingersoll Machine Tools, signifies a promising leap in maritime innovation. The large-format 3D printing not only breaks records but also opens doors to more sustainable and cost-effective boat manufacturing processes. The composite materials used in the construction of the 3Dirigo highlight the potential for additive manufacturing in revolutionizing traditional approaches.

The maritime sector is increasingly turning to large-format 3D printing to create entire structures in a single printing process, minimizing assembly and post-processing efforts. The 3Dirigo, built with a focus on composite materials, emphasizes the benefits of additive manufacturing in the marine industry. In a broader context, the University of Maine’s 3D printing initiatives extend beyond boat manufacturing. The university has collaborated with the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) to develop a 3.6-meter-long 3D-printed communication shelter for the US military. This demonstrates the versatility and potential applications of large-format 3D printing in civil, defense, and infrastructure projects.

This accomplishment follows a broader trend in maritime 3D printing, exemplified by Al Seer Marine’s creation of a 3D-printed water taxi. Not only breaking records for the world’s largest 3D printed boat, this initiative showcases the industry’s commitment to sustainability by utilizing 67% recycled materials.

As the maritime sector navigates the waters of innovation, the 3Dirigo serves as a beacon, signaling the transformative impact of large-format 3D printing on boat manufacturing and beyond. The future of maritime innovation is setting sail, propelled by the winds of additive manufacturing and sustainability.

University of Maine creates the world’s largest 3D printed boat.

World’s First 3D Printed Water Taxi Is Also Largest 3D Printed Boat.

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.