3D printing inspired many people to build their own robotic creations at home. The ability to design and create the parts quickly and efficiently helped build robotic wings, a problem for engineers until the 3D printer came.
The Bird Comes to Life
Several students and professors came together at the University of Maryland to make a mechanical bird. The group took eight years to make the mechanical contraption dubbed the Robo Raven.
To enable the bird to flap the wings independently of each other, they needed to use two motors which then required a bigger battery. The extra weight prevented the bird from weight.
The group needed to remove some of the weight and the only way to do that was to lighten the parts. This is what makes the 3D printer so versatile. With simple computer designs, you can easily change the specifications of certain areas and reprint it.
The new polymer parts helped Robo Raven lose the necessary pounds. If only it was that easy for people as well. The team also programmed the wings to perform at their optimum level depending on the conditions like any flying bird would. When trying to make a fake bird fly like a real one you need to balance the flaps with the right positions.
With the experimentation and testing done by the team, Robo Raven can perform “new in-flight aerobatics—like diving and rolling—that would have not been possible before, and brings us a big step closer to faithfully reproducing the way real birds fly” Satyandra K. Gupta, professor of mechanical engineering at U of M.
3D printing provides the changes needed to make creative thoughts real.