Printed spiderAt CartridgeMonkey, we’re not too fond of spiders, except our cousins Spider Monkeys of course!

If we find a spider in the bath, we have to call Mrs Monkey to get it out for us. With an army of them running around the tree house, there’s more than enough for our liking. So it seems strange that somebody would want to make any more, but that’s exactly what a team of scientists have done; they have successfully manufactured a new type of 3D printer robot spiders.

We’re all well aware of the advances being made with printers. Printers like the Brother DCP-9010CN MFC Colour Laser Printer  have increased our expectations of what to expect from printers. Its speed and quality, of printing combined with its advanced single-pass print technology, means our home and business printers are better than ever. For now though, we’ll focus on exciting developments in the world of 3D printers.

In our latest article about how 3D printers are being used to save lives, the Fraunhofer Institute have announced how they have designed a robotic spider using a 3D printer which they hope will be deployed in areas where humans cannot go.

The relatively inexpensive robot has been created based on the design of a real spider. It mimics the exact movements of a spider so that it can get into almost any place with ease. This new idea could bring untold benefits to disaster areas in the future.

What are the Applications for the Robot Spider?

For many reasons, there are places where it is impossible for humans to go. After an earthquake, it is physically impossible for humans to go into the rubble to check for survivors. They rely on very limited robots, heat tracing devices and old fashioned hard labour to dig out the debris in order to search for survivors.

The spider robot would be able to navigate tiny crevices to seek out survivors and relay images by way of an onboard camera to the search and rescue teams. Catastrophic incidents involving chemicals and radiation would also not be any trouble for the spider.

After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster following the devastating earthquake in Japan earlier this year, the high radiation levels prohibited humans entering the meltdown zone. A device like the 3D printed spider robot would not only be able to act as a video link, it would also be capable of supporting a chemical sensor and Geiger counter in order to detect the levels of chemicals and radiation within the disaster zone.

How the Robot Spider are Printed

The spider is made from special plastic using a unique 3D printing technique called Selective Laser Sintering. Thin layers of fine polyamide powder are printed by the 3D printer and then heated by a laser to make a solid but elastic spider.

Using this 3D printing process ensures that they are much more cost effective than traditional mechanically engineered robots. One of the chief scientists responsible for the spider robot, Ralf Becker, claims that they can be manufactured so cheaply, they could be considered disposable.

The design technology is based on enhancing the truly sterling work of Mother Nature. Just as your household spider does, the robotic spider walks with four feet on the ground at all times. The other four feet, just like in nature, are busy readying themselves for the next step. With standard robot detectors, the trouble they face is difficulty moving over rough terrain, and they find it almost impossible to go underneath rubble, without tipping over.

To combat this, the 3D printed robot spider’s legs have a special hydraulic system acting as joints which allow the legs to move like that of a real spider’s legs. Incredibly, this can also help the spider to jump where necessary

So yet again, we see how the exciting technologies of 3D printers are at the forefront of life saving innovation. At this moment in time, it is unclear whether a rival bunch of scientists are trying to develop a giant 3D printed rolled up newspaper. It could come in handy for those who might suffer from a new type of fear; Arachnotechnophobia.

At Cartridge Monkey, just like spiders, we’re trying to get into every home. Only we’re not trying to terrify the faint hearted. We’re just shocking people with the savings they can make with our incredibly low prices on printers and printer ink cartridges. Stay away from spider’s webs and visit us on the World Wide Web today!


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