Traditional manufacturing methods have witnessed disruptions in the recent decades, in the form of either robotics or 3D printing (3DP). A convergence of these disruptive technologies, however, promises to change the future of Robotics & other industries as well.
Companies engaged in manufacturing robots stand to benefit greatly from the inclusion of 3DP, in their business processes. Since most robots are required for unique applications, the ability of 3DP helps by speeding-up prototyping. This rapid prototyping helps designers, test new models faster & customize them according to customer or application requirement faster. The result, customized robots can be made available in the market faster, due to a faster product design process. 3DP can also help mass produce customized robot designs & meet the rising demand for higher personalization with relative ease.
Robots, being often used for specific applications, require special tools for manufacturing them as well. This requirement of special tools to manufacture robotic parts with complex geometries, is readily fulfilled by 3D printing them. Different custom parts, for varied applications of the same robot can hence be easily created, by 3D printing them. Design engineers can not only 3D print tooling & fixtures for the robotic assembly process, but also use Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) for new manufacturing methods.
DfAM methods of making tools help reduce overall costs, by reducing the overall number of parts required because of hybrid machinery & processes. Using DfAM in robotic manufacturing helps reduce waste of raw materials, while increasing overall strength & durability of parts by eliminating potential failure points in robot designs. DfAM can also help fabricate entire robots or major parts of robots. With no prerequisite for molds, robots & robotic parts can be produced in smaller volumes, in rapid & economical fashion.
Savings in time & money resulting from incorporating 3DP in assembly & manufacturing, can be diverted towards research & innovation to develop better robots. 3DP can also help repair robots with ease. By printing parts that need replacement ‘on-site’ or reverse engineering parts that are expensive to reproduce, repairing damaged robots is made efficient by 3DP. Robotic parts can also be re designed with ease, helping to build & improve on earlier designs.
Including 3DP methods in robotic design & manufacturing helps turbocharge the entire supply chain, while making maintenance & repair robots easier. The convergence of these disruptive technologies promises a future of automation & efficiency for a host of industries.