3D printing and robotics - an obvious match?

Kristoffer Ryelund Nielsen

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3D printing and robotics - an obvious match?

Denmark has built up a strong position within automation, robotics, and drones. But the potential can be even greater if Danish robot companies take advantage of the opportunities that 3D printing offers in this area. At the R-22 robotics fair, the Danish Technological Institute’s specialists will therefore demonstrate why 3D printing and robotics are an obvious match.

3D printing has undergone a rapid development in recent years, and the technology is increasingly used for finished industrial components – leading to unimaginable design and optimization possibilities. Similarly, robotics has evolved at a fast pace - not least in Denmark - and now the manufacturers of robots are becoming increasingly aware of 3D printing. To meet the growing interest, the Danish Technological Institute's 3D printing specialists are present at the R-22 robotics fair in Odense - the goal is to show the robot companies how they can benefit from 3D printing.
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- At the fair, we want to make it clear that 3D printing is no longer just for prototypes - you can actually produce parts that are used in industry and that help create added value. Here, we see e.g. a number of advantages when 3D printing is used in interaction with industrial robots, says Kristoffer Ryelund, business manager at the Danish Technological Institute.

A number of crucial benefits

If you ask Kristoffer Ryelund, there are several good reasons why 3D printing, and robotics are an obvious match. In general, 3D printing can add value throughout the life of the product - from the development stage, through the use phase and until the product eventually has to be phased out. More specifically, you can use 3D printing to do weight and size optimization on robots and drones, where especially the weight is of crucial importance.

3D printing is ideal for drones, which should preferably be as light as possible so that they can fly for a longer time - or carry a heavier load. This weight reduction can be achieved by combining 3D printing and computer-optimized design, where only the most necessary material is retained

- Kristoffer Ryelund, Danish Technological institute

In terms of robotic grippers, the advantages of 3D printing are also clear, as the technology can satisfy several industries' need for lighter and stronger grippers. By reducing the size and weight of the gripper, the robot requires less energy to move it, and at the same time, the gripper can be moved faster. Alternatively, you can use a smaller - and cheaper - robot. In addition, you get a great deal of design freedom, and you have the opportunity to build several components together into one component with increased functionality - and it is also possible to make internal air ducts on vacuum grippers.

Optimized robots with 3D printing

Metalemner på platform i 3D-printerThe Danish Technological Institute runs a network group focusing on 3D printing and robotics, and here a number of robot companies recently met to spar with each other and gain insight into the latest knowledge in the field - including the benefits of using 3D printing for robot applications.

- With 3D printing, we save a lot of time when we have to develop new tools. In addition, we can combine several different functions in the same component, and then we can reduce the weight - and that is what is important to us, says Rune Stokholm Pedersen, mechanical engineer at Sanovo Technology Robots, who also says that the company has seem several side benefits of using 3D printing:

- For instance, we have a shorter delivery time on spare parts for our customers. So by starting to work with 3D printing, we have found that there are more bonuses than we initially expected.

Hear more about 3D printing at R-22

The Danish Technological Institute's 3D printing specialists have their own exhibition stand at the R-22 robotics fair. Here, they display several examples of companies that have already taken advantage of the synergies between 3D printing and robotics. If you are interested in learning more about how the two areas can play together, R-22 is therefore a great opportunity to get advice, knowledge and inspiration.