No matter how you slice it, the world of robotics is serious business. As
scientists around the world mix robotics and 3D printing, we see incredible
innovations emerging that will indeed change the face of manufacturing from
brick-laying robots for construction to advanced prosthetics, and far more. But
there is also an arena for robotics that is increasing in popularity, offering a
deeply innovative quotient along with competition and most of all—fun. These are
events where we get to watch robots duking it out, built by teams of humans who
are enthusiastic about combat, to say the least!
Obviously, these combat robots need to be not only serious showstoppers—and
with the more special effects the better—but as with any vehicles meant for
battle, they must be incredibly strong. And lucky is the team that has built
their combat robot with parts from a Markforged 3D printer, known for offering
strength first and foremost.
Alex Crease, an applications engineer at Markforged, decided to enter his
own creation into the ring, attending the MASSdestruction event at Artisan’s
Asylum earlier this month. Crease blogged about his experience, and explained
that the Markforged 3D printers are actually used more commonly for combat
robotics than you may have imagined—in fact, he describes this as one of their
niches. They have sponsored other combat teams in the past too, from creating
the robot bodies to 3D printing shock absorbing mounts.
“One of the reasons why our printers are so valuable in this field is due
to our high strength to weight ratio,” states Crease. “With continuous strand
carbon fiber, our materials can exceed the strength to weight ratio of aluminum,
and with the impact resistance of Kevlar, our printers can produce entirely
custom parts that can sustain heavy hits no problem.”
With a special interest in horizontal spinner robots, Crease
decided to use 3D printing with the Mark Two for improving on some of that
technology with his own design called ‘Foiled.’ By 3D printing both the chassis
and the center of the weapon disk, Crease saw that he would be able to give his
bot a ‘critical advantage’ due to the materials he had access to. And if you
have been following the Markforged 3D printers, you’re aware that they offer a
list of versatile materials from fiberglass to nylon and microcarbon, and more.
Offering a double printhead and the opportunity to create objects as strong as
aluminum, the Mark Two 3D printer allows for users to do much more than they
could previously with other methods such as CNC machining.
Crease had the obvious upper hand with technology, using Onyx with Kevlar
reinforcement for the chassis and a 3D printed carbon fiber insert for the
center of the weapon disk.
“The spokes of this insert I designed to be upside-down airfoils,” stated
Crease. “This means that whenever my weapon is on, the forces from the airfoil
help the robot stick to the ground.”
In the first battle, Foiled took on AmbiSinister. And in a very exciting
twist, it turned out that this team had also used Markforged 3D printed parts.
Sadly for AmbiSinister, however, he was flipped over and ‘spinning like a top’
almost immediately. Not long after that, Foiled had won his first combat
experience. Check out the video below and see Foiled win not long after
AmbiSinister takes his first major tumble:
He then watched Foiled fight Rising Phoenix and Puppy, ultimately bringing
home first place.
Crease points out that this success might not have been possible using
parts from another 3D printer with materials more commonly used. Due to the
strength and lightweight qualities, he was able to take Foiled right to the top
in his first combat event.
“I’m excited to test out future concepts in combat robotics and develop a 3
lb version, Foiled Again!” says Crease.