A group from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has recently developed a new system for printing custom-made functional robots and devices , without human intervention.
Its unique system uses a three-ingredient recipe that allows users to create structural geometry, print traces, and assemble electronic components such as sensors and actuators.
LaserFactory , which is the name of the system, has two parts that work together: a set of software tools that allows users to design custom devices and a hardware platform that manufactures them.
LaserFactory automatically cuts geometry, releases silver for circuit traces, selects and places components, and finally treats silver to make traces conductive, securing components in place to complete fabrication.
One of the developers, Martin Nisser , notes that this kind of ‘one-stop shop’ could be beneficial to product developers, manufacturers, researchers, and educators looking to rapidly prototype wearable devices, robots, drones, and other printed electronics.
As seen in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) video showing the system, a drone can take off right after being conceived by LaserFactory:
Making manufacturing inexpensive, fast, and accessible to a layman remains a challenge. Leveraging widely available manufacturing platforms such as 3D printers and laser cutters, LaserFactory is the first system to integrate these capabilities and automate the entire line to fabricate functional devices in one system.
The researchers plan to refine the LaserFactory by improving the quality and fidelity of the circuit traces so that the system can build more complex and dense devices .