Roving Hexapod Poops Out 3D Prints

[Jia Wu, Mary Sek, and Jeff Maeshiro], students  at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco, took on the task of developing a walking 3D printer. The result is Geoweaver, a hexapod robot with a glue gun extruder system. Hackaday has seen walking CNC machines before, but not a 3D printer. Geoweaver uses two servos on each of its six legs to traverse the land. The team was able to program several gaits into the robot, allowing it to traverse uneven terrain. Walking is hard enough on its own, but Geoweaver also uses a glue gun based extruder to make 3D prints. The extruder head uses two servos to swing in a hemispherical arc. The arc is mapped in software to a flat plain plane, allowing the robot to drop a dollop of glue exactly where it is programmed to. Geoweaver doesn’t include much in the way of on board processing – an Arduino Uno is used to drive the 15 servos. Those servos coupled with a glue gun style heater pull quite a bit of power, which has earned Geoweaver nicknames such as Servo Killer, Eater of Shields, Melter of Wires, and Destroyer of Regulators.

Geoweaver’s prints may not be much to look at yet, however the important thing to remember is that one of the future visions for this robot is to print on a planetary scale. Geoweaver currently uses reacTIVision to provide computer control via an “eye in the sky”. ReacTIVision tracks a fiducial marker on the robot, and applies it to a topographical map of the terrain. This allows Geoweaver to change its height and print parameters depending on the flatness of the ground it is printing on. On a scaled up Geoweaver, reacTIVision would be replaced by GPS or a similar satellite based navigation system.  Most of the software used in Geoweaver is opensource, including Grasshopper and Firefly, written by the team’s professor, [Jason Kelly Johnson]. The exception is Rhino 5. We would love to see an option for a free or open source alternative to laying out ~$1000 USD in software for our own Geoweaver.

21 thoughts on “Roving Hexapod Poops Out 3D Prints

  1. How long before we start making buildings and bridges like this? Start with one little robot that scoops up dirt and garbage and spits out robots that proceed to build your house. When they are done making your house they go out back and make a lovely garden and then they fertilize the garden as they disassemble themselves back into dirt.
    Send back the original robot and get your deposit back, they clean it up and send it out to another new homeowner.

        1. If you’re going to hand wave converting matter to energy, then you don’t need the robot anymore. Just sprinkle some physics dust and wave your science wand and turn that vacant lot into a mansion.

  2. A robot that can take a shit, what an age we live in! But F is right, this could be the beginning of robot construction, although I see robots being taken to the site, weaving a steel rebar structure and then spraying it with shotcrete to make a building shell in a day.

        1. Spell check is quite handy for misspelled words. One must however, choose the correct suggestion in order for a reading to be correct.

          Rather than saying spell-checker “wont help you”, you might suggest that spell checker is not to be used as a grammar checker; which, if you have ever used the one in MS Word, you know is not so good when you are attempting to state a fact in a particular way.

          Anything written in the same manner that Yoda speaks will be marked for correction.

          It always helps to read what one has written before hitting the post button. Even at that, I will still miss things if I am rushing myself.

    1. This appears to be at the proof of concept stage and for that stage it succeeds.

      The thing is printing while it is walking. And it does not have proper control of the material being extruded. If they mounted a delta on top of that thing, and had it walk much slower, it would likely have better output.

      They have a lot of refinement to do on the algorithm that controls it’s gate as well as it’s print. All of that has to work together, and the height of the bot must remain steady so that the print can build properly.

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