3D Printing With Micro-Robots?

By on May 27th, 2014 in research


We’re watching a video from SRI International, who have apparently been developing micro-robots that can assemble things. 

In the video you’ll see these magnetically controlled robots whisk about a surface, rapidly collecting parts and assembling them into structures, such as the truss imaged above. It’s startling to see how quickly and accurately these critters can move and perform their work. 

While this technology seems to have been developed for “assembly” of objects, we’re wondering if some modifications could result in a rather different type of 3D printer. Imagine armies of such small robots, each moving rapidly to deposit a piece of material, gradually building up an object. That’s additive manufacturing for certain. 

The interesting angle is that the robots could use material from multiple “bins”, meaning you could theoretically use this approach to build objects out of many different materials. 

Fusing the material together is an issue. Perhaps “glue bots” could deliver binder as material is placed in position? 

Some may say 3D printing is a limited technology with few applications. We think not, as there are many new methods of performing 3D printing yet to be discovered. This could be one of them. 

Via YouTube (Hat tip to Matt)