Making Simple Robots: Exploring Cutting-Edge Robotics with Everyday Stuff

Making Simple Robots is based on one idea: Anybody can build a robot! That includes kids, school teachers, parents, and non-engineers. If you can knit, sew, or fold a flat piece of paper into a box, you can build a no-tech robotic part. If you can use a hot glue gun, you can learn to solder basic electronics into a low-tech robot that reacts to its environment. And if you can figure out how to use the apps on your smart phone, you can learn enough programming to communicate with a simple robot.

Written in language that non-engineers can understand, Making Simple Robots helps beginners move beyond basic craft skills and materials to the latest products and tools being used by artists and inventors. Find out how to animate folded paper origami, design a versatile robot wheel-leg for 3D printing, or program a rag doll to blink its cyborg eye. Each project includes step-by-step directions as well as clear diagrams and photographs. And every chapter offers suggestions for modifying and expanding the projects, so that you can return to the projects again and again as your skill set grows.

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Awesome Stuff: 3D Printing And Way, Way More

from the assembly-line dept

3D printers are wonderful tools for modern makers and tinkerers, but all by themselves they can make little more than plastic trinkets and pieces of larger projects. Today, we’re looking at one of the most interesting evolutions in the world of 3D printing: the Makerarm, a veritable factory-in-a-box that boasts 3D printing as just one of its many capabilities.

The Good

The range of the Makerarm’s capabilities is almost unbelievable, and calling it a “3D printer” simply doesn’t do it justice. Yes, it can 3D print — with both the filament and resin methods — but swap out the tool head attached to its programmable arm and it becomes a light-duty miller and carver, or a laser-engraver. Swap it out again and it can print custom circuit boards. Once more, and it can assemble the components on those boards. Use the variety of suction cups, grippers and magnets and it can assemble whole projects, then throw on the screwdriver head and it can fasten them all together. Pair it with another Makerarm, and they can work in concert to do all those things but bigger.

Yup, the Makerarm does just about everything, to the point that you can build an entire custom laptop computer without needing any other tools — and it does all that for only $2200 (the price with a complete set of tool heads). As if that weren’t enough, the arm itself is maker-friendly, and includes a hardware development kit for building custom tool heads. It’s not a 3D printer but a general-purpose robotic arm, and the savings in both money and space for an avid hobbyist is staggering. Someone with a limited budget and a small workshop no longer has to make that tough choice between 3D printing, milling, laser engraving and PCB printing — all of which are available as reasonably affordable desktop devices, but no more than two of which have been combined before. The ability to actually assemble projects piece by piece is just icing on the metaphorical cake — and the ability to swap in a food-friendly head and print with confections is icing on the literal cake.

The Bad

The Makerarm is only in the working prototype phase, and that means there’s still the question of just how well it really does all these things. That’s something serious makers will have to determine after they get their hands on the device, so not everyone is going to want to jump on the Kickstarter right away. It’s probably fair to guess that it won’t match the quality of standalone devices for every function, but it appears poised to exceed at least some of them, and as long as it’s capable the price tag will make it an appealing alternative to an array of individual tools.

The Controllable

In the past I’ve bemoaned other tools that can only be controlled by proprietary software and, worse still, only on iOS or Android — a limitation that I think puts such devices somewhere on the border between “hobby” and “toy” in the minds of serious makers. The Makerarm’s approach is different and much better all-around, though not without drawbacks: its custom control software is web based, which means it’s completely platform-agnostic (good) but also tied to the cloud and the Makerarm website (less good). However, it’s also mercifully not reliant on its own software, and works with other CAD/CAM/CAE tools &mdash it even comes with a one year subscription to AutoDesk Fusion 360. Given this, and the fact that the arm itself is trainable and scriptable, and the fact that people can build new tool heads for it, I think the Makerarm’s already-impressive list of functions is in fact just the beginning.

Just in Time for the SuperBowl: Stratasys Shows Off Their Stuff with New 3D Printed Football

StratasysLogoWithTagline_CMYKIt’s that time of the year again, and one has to consider which has become bigger—the SuperBowl—or the amazing marketing surrounding it? For sure, we get a big dose of football, but also an opportunity to learn about a lot of big new products that are arriving on the scene. And as everyone gets in on the frenzy of the biggest game of the year, Stratasys was not to be topped, producing a multi-material 3D printed football.

Objet500 Connex3 Coloro Multi-material 3D Printer

Objet500 Connex3 Coloro Multi-material 3D Printer

As the Patriots meet the SeaHawks on the field, TVs will be running overtime all over the country and world, with the crowds hoisting beers and raising arms in cheering as their teams score and hopefully, triumph. By next year though, there just may be a team of kids out on the lawn playing ball, and tossing around their very own 3D printed footballs, courtesy of Stratasys. And while I don’t think their marketing video is hitting the leagues of the SuperBowl (not this year, anyway), it’s important, and interesting, to get a look at what is most likely the world’s first 3D printed football.

Manufactured on an Objet500 Connex3 3D printer, Stratasys gave their multi-material machine a good chance to show off its stuff, using three different materials, with the rubber-like TangoPlus, VeroMagenta, and VeroYellow—all for the one football. With the incredible versatility and choices of material available with the Objet500 Connex3, Stratasys was able to use textures and materials so that their 3D printed football feels and looks almost identical to the traditional pigskin.

super-bowl-3d-printed-footballUsing triple jet technology, the Objet500 Connex3 3D printer is receiving more and more acclaim due to its ability to print large parts or multiple parts all in one job, as well as integrating multiple materials. It has amazing color capabilities and can create three-component digital materials, with over 1000 materials and resins to choose from. Fine details and smooth surfaces are promised, and the 3D printed football is a nice example of what it can do not just as a novelty item for the SuperBowl, but as another 3D printed item they can offer to the sports world.

Stratasys has already worked with a multitude of sports enthusiasts, teams, and companies, and we’ve followed along, writing a number of stories on their successes and interesting projects regarding 3D printing in areas like kite surfing where they were able to help university students 3D print custom parts to help them in an extreme challenge involving the elements of wind and sea.

Being able to use 3D printing in sports is one more area where access to streamlined design and customization mean that athletes and athletics companies can bring new and exciting products to the industry and marketplace faster, and with more input from the individuals actually using the products likes skis, motocross bicycles, or fencing equipment—all items which Stratasys has worked in developing different pieces for with the technology of 3D printing.

Have you seen any 3D printed items for sports? What do you think or the impact 3D printing can have in the sports arena? Tell us your thoughts in the Stratasys 3D Printed Football forum over at 3DPB.com, and what the heck, let us know who you are cheering for in this year’s Super Bowl.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUBceawRioQ]

SUMMARY: Stratasys is in the spirit of the New Year and the height of football season, as the SuperBowl looms, and fans are getting excited. With the Objet500 Connex3, Stratasys is showing what the multi-material 3D printer is capable of with the use of three different materials– TangoPlus, VeroMagenta, and VeroYellow. This is not Stratasys’ first foray into the world of sports, as they have also 3D printed parts for kiteboards, bikes, skis, and have even made 3D printed fencing equipment.  Additional information on this awesome 3D printed football can be found here:  http://3dprint.com/40326/superbowl-3d-print-football/

Below is a picture of the ball:

http://3dprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/super-bowl-3d-printed-football.jpg