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Engineering Materials

3D Printable Robots Get NSF Research Funding

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SparkyWatt
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Re: Focus on Research
SparkyWatt   4/12/2012 6:29:01 PM
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Neural nets aren't programmable.  At least not in the sense of the programmer positively determining what they do.  At best, a neural net can be trained to respond a specific way to specific stimuli.  When it then gets dissimilar stimuli, it is anyone's guess what it is going to do.  I wouldn't recommend them for this kind of thing at all.

Save them for applications where their flexibility is a bonus and their lack of determinism is not a hazard or a detriment.

On the subject of paper, I felt the same way about the pictures, but I have also seen a true 3D printer that uses paper and glue for its build matrix.  So I withheld comment on that point.  The possibility is still there.

Charles Murray
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Re: Focus on Research
Charles Murray   4/12/2012 6:32:55 PM
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@JCG: When I invested in Lego Mindstorms, I said it was for my sons, too. :)

nitchvideo
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Iron
I think this is all ready being done!
nitchvideo   4/12/2012 11:29:31 PM
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It seems like this company is already doing that.

www.printablecircuits.com

gsmith120
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Re: I think this is all ready being done!
gsmith120   4/14/2012 6:29:02 PM
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The information on the web page is very interesting.  However, I wonder about the company no real company information all I remember seeing are several generic email addresses.  If anyone has first hand working knowledge or relationship with this company please post.

gsmith120
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3D Printable for Everyone?
gsmith120   4/14/2012 6:43:10 PM
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I like the idea that the average person would have the ability to select, print and program a robot.  Exactly how this will be accomplished and made available will be interesting.  Some people have a difficult time programming universal remote controls.  A professor once told his programming class creating an easy to use program means a lot of work on the programmer and I think this comment applies to this concept.  To develop something that is simple will take a lot of upfront work and planning plus a reasonable costing 3D printer.   Nevertheless, I like the concept.

Scott Orlosky
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Re: 3D Printable for Everyone?
Scott Orlosky   4/14/2012 7:28:14 PM
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As cool as the concept sounds, I doubt that the "average" person will be embracing it any time soon.  Let's face it, technology has to be "packaged up" and simplified before the average person will use it.  Witness the remote controlled television.  I can't tell you the number of times my kids went searching for the "lost" remote to turn the TV off, while I actually got up out of my chair, walked over to the box and pushed the "off" button.

William K.
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3d printable robots?
William K.   4/15/2012 4:50:30 PM
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Just think of how much waste we could produce if the general public were able to attempt to produce an individual robot! We have folks with no technical understanding and no concept of cause and effect, and now those could spend a bit of effort and consume resources in creating something robotic. Aside from the mounds of wreckage, consider the implications of a robot produced by somebody who has no grasp of inertia or kinematics. Just think about that! 

In addition, consider those "bright young kids" who could be crating assorted robots, learning about the process of creating functional robots, without ever understanding a whole lot of basic engineering and physics fundamentals. IT looks to me like a handy process for producing "unintended consequences", from where I stand.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Focus on Research
Ann R. Thryft   4/16/2012 12:57:05 PM
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Beth, the My Robot Nation initiative you wrote about was to create models, so it's admittedly much simpler. But the NSF-funded project is allotting time and money, and particularly some of the best brains in robotics, to a lot of research clearly lacking in the My Robot Nation initiative. That research will focus on several topic areas, including "new, programmable materials." If 3D printing can be used to make parts for aircraft I don't see why it can't be used to print parts for functional robots. 


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Focus on Research
Ann R. Thryft   4/16/2012 1:01:25 PM
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SparkyWatt, thanks, I hadn't thought of the Lego analogy, but I think that's a great one. Other, equally "far-fetched" methods are already being used for mass-producing small functional robots, such as this one that produces a robot insect from a single sheet:

http://www.azorobotics.com/news.aspx?newsID=2501


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Focus on Research
Ann R. Thryft   4/16/2012 1:03:30 PM
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JCG, I agree the photos of paper "robots" do look like mockups, since as naperlou pointed out, the prototypes shown clearly don't have working joints. The article also states they are prototypes, not functional robots. This is a five-year project, so clearly there aren't any results yet. It's also interesting that the research will examine "new, programmable materials."


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