Soft Robotics, Silicone Rubber, And Amazing Castings


Most of the robotics projects we see around here are heavy, metallic machines that move with exacting precision with steppers, servos, motors, and electronics. [Matthew] is another breed of roboticist, and created a quadruped robot with no hard moving parts.

[Matthew] calls his creation the Glaucus, after the blue sea slug Glaucus atlanticus. Inside this silicone rubber blob are a series of voids, allowing compressed air to expand the legs, gently inching Glaucus across a table under manual or automatic control.

Even though no one seems to do it, making a few molds for casting on a 3D printer is actually pretty easy. [Matthew] is taking this technique to an extreme, though: First, a mold for the interior pressure bladders are printed, then a positive of this print made in silicone rubber. These silicone molds – four of them, for the left, right, top and bottom – are then filled with wax, and the wax parts reassembled inside the final ‘body’ mold. It’s an amazing amount of work to make just one of these soft robots, but once the molds and masters are made, [Matthew] can pop out a soft robot every few hours or so.

There’s a lot more info on Glaucus over on the official site for the build, and a somewhat simpler ‘compressed air and silicone rubber’ tentacle [Matthew] built showing off the mechanics. Video below.


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Home Made Resin Based 3D Printer is Incredible


Resin based 3D printers (SLA) are the next big thing, and while they may seem daunting at first, in some ways they are actually simpler than FDM machines with less moving parts! Loosely following an Instructable, [Dan Beaven] has just finished putting together his own home-made 3D DLP Printer, and it’s bloody brilliant.

He owes a lot of thanks to [Tristram Budel] and his incredibly detailed Instructables guide on building  a 3D DLP printer, but [Dan] has also added quite a bit of his own flair to the build. Most notably is his method of separating layers from the vat of resin — most designs tilt the bed slightly to counter the suction forces, but his slides the vat back and forth along the Y-axis, which seems to work extremely well.

The printer is built out of 1″ T-slot aluminum and has a NEMA 17 motor that provides the Y-axis movement along two linear rods for the vat. The Z-axis stage uses a NEMA 23 motor and has a whopping 14″ of travel. Combined with a 104mm x 204mm build plate, this thing can print some decently sized parts!

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MRRF: Roundtable And Roundup

Last weekend Hackaday made a trip out to the Midwest RepRap Festival in Goshen, Indiana. We met a ton of interesting people, saw a lot of cool stuff, and managed to avoid the Amish horse and buggies plying the roads around Goshen.

We’ve already posted a few things from MRRF, including [Jordan Miller] and co.’s adventures in bioprinting, a very cool printable object repo that’s backed by a nonprofit LLC, some stuff from Lulzbot that included a new extruder, stretchy filament, and news of a 3D scanner that’s in development, ARM-based CNC controllers including the Smoothieboard and capes for the Beaglebone, 3D printed resin molds, the newest project from [Nicholas Seward], creator or the RepRap Wally, Simpson, and Lisa, and 3D printed waffles. It really was an amazing event and also the largest DIY 3D printer convention on the planet. How this happened in Goshen, Indiana is anyone’s guess, but we’d like to give a shout out to SeeMeCNC for organizing this event.

With so many famous RepRappers in one place, it only made sense to put together a round table discussion on the state of RepRap, 3D printers, and microfabrication. We have a 40-minute long video of that, which you can check out after the break.

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KamerMaker Begins Printing a House


The KamerMaker is the world’s largest portable 3D printing pavilion built out of a shipping container — it has started printing an entire house out of plastic.

We first shared the KamerMaker (literally “Room Maker” in Dutch) a few years ago when it was first designed and built as a collaboration project between Utilimaker and Architectburo DUS. Their intention was the ability to print 1:1 architectural designs, and now it has begun its biggest project yet — an entire house along the canal in Amsterdam.

So far the KamerMaker has printed one corner of the Canal House, which features part of a staircase. It weighs about 400lbs and took a week to print. To increase the strength of these 3D printed parts, the company uses a honeycomb infill and before assembly will fill the gaps inside the piece with a type of foam that becomes as hard as concrete.

The project is estimated to take three years for completion, and until then you can visit it at Tolhuisweg 7, 1031 CL in North Amsterdam, where it is open to the public for a small fee of €2.50 — this is a tourist city after all! When completed it will be a design museum, although the team at DUS hope it will be only the first of many 3D printed buildings.

To learn more about the project, stick around for the following video.

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Heated Build Chambers Don’t Have to be That Complex


Looking to improve the quality of your 3D prints? Worried about peeling, warping, and de-laminating layers? All you need is to do is make a heated build chamber!

The heated build chamber is one of the patents that the big 3D printer company owns (we won’t point any fingers), and that’s why you don’t see it as a feature on any of the “consumer” grade 3D printers. But that won’t stop people from making their own!

[Repkid] just finished a wiki page on this topic, and it’s a great way to build a heated chamber — if you have the space for it! He’s built a large wooden enclosure for his RepRap out of MDF sheets. Double-ply cardboard is used as thin insulation, although we imagine if you’re building something this large you might as well use some commercial insulation.

The chamber is heated by a blow dryer which is mounted off the back of the box, and the heat is controlled by changing the speed setting of the dryer. A laser cut vent allows for further adjustment. If you want to get really fancy, it would be very easy to install a thermostat PID controller that could regulate the temperature more accurately. To prevent overheating the electronics, all the control boards are also outside of the box.

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Ask Hackaday: Auto Bed Leveling And High Temperature Force Sensitive Resistors


[Johann] over on the RepRap wiki has an ingenious solution for making sure a borosilicate glass bed is completely level before printing anything on his Kossel printer: take three force sensitive resistors, put them under the build platform, and wire them in parallel, and connect them to a thermistor input on an electronics board. The calibration is simply a bit of code in the Marlin firmware that touches the nozzle to the bed until the thermistor input maxes out. When it does, the firmware knows the print head has zeroed out and can calculate the precise position and tilt of the bed.

Great, huh? A solution to bed leveling that doesn’t require a Z-probe, uses minimal (and cheap) hardware, and can be retrofitted into just about any existing printer. There’s a problem, though: these force sensitive resistors are only good to 70° C, making the whole setup unusable for anything with a heated bed. Your challenge: figure out a way to use this trick with a heated bed.

The force sensitive resistors used – here’s a link provided by [Johann] – have a maximum operating temperature of 70° C, while the bed temperature when printing with ABS is around 130° C. The FSRs are sensitive to temperature, as well, making this a very interesting problem.

Anyone with any ideas is welcome to comment here, on the RepRap forums, the IRC, or anywhere else. One idea includes putting an FSR in the x carriage, but we’re thinking some sort of specialized heat sink underneath the bed and on top of the FSRs would be a better solution.

Video of the auto bed leveling trick in action below.

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3D Printers Can Only Make Trinkets — What About Kayaks?


Wow. [Jim Smith] of Grass Roots Engineering has just put the finishing touches on his entirely 3D printed kayak. And it floats.

The individual parts were printed on [Jim's] massive home-made 3D printer, which is loosely based off a RepRap — except that its maximum build volume is a whopping 403 x 403 x 322.7mm.

The kayak itself is made of 28 printed sections, and to hold it all together, he has installed brass threaded thermoplastic inserts, which then allow the pieces to be bolted together. Silicone caulking is applied before assembly to ensure a watertight seal.

It was originally based off of a Siskiwit Bay kayak by [Bryan Hansel] but [Jim] has heavily modified it to suit 3D printing. It was printed at a layer height of 0.65mm to reduce print time, which still ended up being over 1000 hours! He even optimized the design to improve performance based on his own height and weight.

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