University of California San Diego engineers have developed a new method to create insect robots that doesn’t require any special equipment and works in just minutes. “Flexoskeletons” enable them to create soft, flexible, 3D-printed robots, which have both soft and rigid parts. These flexoskeletons are made from 3D printing a rigid material directly onto a thin sheet that acts as a flexible base. Read more for a video and additional information.
They’re 3D-printed with various features that increase rigidity in specific areas, inspired by insect exoskeletons, which combine softness and rigidity for both movement as well as support. Best of all, a single flexoskeleton component takes just 10 minutes to print and costs less than $1. The entire process of printing and assembling a whole robot takes less than 2 hours.
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We hope that these flexoskeletons will lead to the creation of a new class of soft, bioinspired robots. We want to make soft robots easier to build for researchers all over the world,” said Nick Gravish, a mechanical engineering professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and the paper’s senior author.