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Meet Festo's Biomimicry-Inspired, 3D-Printed Bionic InsectsMeet Festo's Biomimicry-Inspired, 3D-Printed Bionic Insects

Elizabeth Montalbano

April 20, 2015

4 Min Read
Meet Festo's Biomimicry-Inspired, 3D-Printed Bionic Insects

Biomimicry and 3D printing have come together in new swarming ant and butterfly robots that act very much like their insect counterparts, the inventions of German robotics firm Festo.

The company introduced its two new robots -- BionicANTs and eMotionButterflies -- at the Hannover Messe 2015 trade fair in Hannover, Germany.

The robots not only look similar to the insects they're inspired by, but also behave in similar ways due to a number of both visual and structural Festo technologies that demonstrate how robots can interact not only with each other but one day also with humans, Gabriele Goebel-Heise, a spokeswoman for Festo's technology corporate communication, told Design News in an interview. Festo specializes in industrial robot technology, and so the robots are in part a study in how to create technologies that will allow robots and humans to interact in an industrial environment.

"In thinking about production of the future, the real and virtual worlds are continuing to grow together," Goebel-Heise said. "The systems envisaged will consist of closely networked components and subsystems. The constant information exchange here guarantees the operational safety of the individual participants and hence the process stability of the entire system. [With the new robots,] Festo is already showing how several objects can be coordinated without colliding in a three-dimensional space thanks to multifaceted networking."

Festo produced the physical components of the robots through a 3D-printing process of laser sintering, and then finished with the electrical circuits of the robots attached on the outside, integrating both the design and function of the robots.


About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Montalbano

Elizabeth Montalbano has been a professional journalist covering the telecommunications, technology and business sectors since 1998. Prior to her work at Design News, she has previously written news, features and opinion articles for Phone+, CRN (now ChannelWeb), the IDG News Service, Informationweek and CNNMoney, among other publications. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she also has lived and worked in Phoenix, Arizona; San Francisco and New York City. She currently resides in Lagos, Portugal. Montalbano has a bachelor's degree in English/Communications from De Sales University and a master's degree from Arizona State University in creative writing.

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