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3D printed objects can now move 

August 14, 2014 • News

Interconnected moving parts 3D printed in one piece have now become reality, thanks to the research teams from Disney Research Zurich, ETH Zurich and Columbia University.

3D printed objects can now move 

Snapshots from the motion cycle of Satyr, a creature from Greek mythology with goat-like features.
[Image credit: “Computational Design of Linkage-Based Characters”, paper published by the research teams from Disney Research Zurich, ETH Zurich and Columbia University.]

The scientists have published a paper which incorporates an overview of two amazing methods for automatic manipulation of 3D models with software.

The software in question integrates mechanical moving functions within an object whose parts can move through manual mechanical manipulation.

“With the advent of 3D printers, the machinery for fabricating personalised mechanical toys, artefacts, or even robots becomes widely available,” states the paper. “Without the assistance of specialised software, however, designing such animated characters is a virtually impossible task for casual users.”

The first method is called ChaCra and helps users define a means of movement within planar mechanical characters. The researchers have managed to design and develop an interactive software system which helps users create planar mechanical characters such as shadow puppets. The software also allows users to sketch out an object and pose the object whichever way they want. The software then determines if further modifications or mechanical structures need to be added.

the Taurus character-01

Taurus, a fiercely charging bull, in full gallop.
[Image credit: “Computational Design of Linkage-Based Characters”]

The second method allows for automation of designing linkage-based mechanical characters that have motors at each joint which are later replaced by the user with rigid links which “mechanically couple” the motions of the various parts of the object.

With the abovementioned methods, anyone can add mechanical motion to any printed object.

The team of researcher will present the methods at ACM SIGGRAPH 2014, the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques held in Canada, reports The Engineer.

3D printing of mechanical designs has now become a breeze and can only develop into something much greater, like designing complex robotic and mechanical systems.

Watch the video below.

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