This week in engineering has seen 3D printers grab the headlines whether it is the merger of two major 3D printing companies, the use of robotics arms in 3D print houses, or using 3D printers to create dentures and teeth. In the field of battery design, researchers have been able to use algae to power a microcontroller for an entire year, and Royal Mail is now looking to use drones to ship goods to remote locations.
Royal Mail to implement autonomous fleet of drones
Getting mail to remote places is a tough challenge, but when those places are on some small island with a population of ten it can present major economic challenges. In recognition of this challenge, Royal Mail is planning to create a fleet of 50 large-scale drones that will be designed to carry cargo between the UK mainland and offshore islands to provide a more frequent delivery service that is safer for Royal Mail employees while still offering same rates as any other mail. What kind of drones will Royal Mail use, have the CAA approved the use of autonomous drones, and will this kickstart the drone delivery industry?
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ExOne launches its latest 3D printer – The S-Max Flex Sand
This week, ExOne has announced their latest 3D printer, called the S-Max Flex Sand, which uses sand and binders to create 3D printed models. ExOne, which specialises in 3D printed and robotic technologies and were acquired by Desktop Metal in 2021, has been working with Desktop Metal technology to develop the S-Max Flex printer that takes advantage of a robotic arm to deploy and bind the layers. The use of 3D printing sand technology is particularly advantageous for those making sand moulds for metal casting, and it is hoped that the new printer will reduce the costs of entry. What other technology has ExOne integrated into their new printer, what materials can it print, and where can those prints be used?
Bovay Civil Infrastructure Laboratory Complex demonstrates 3D printing robot for construction
The construction of buildings is an industry almost as old as man, and while many new technologies have come about, building homes has never been more expensive. However, Bovay Civil Infrastructure Laboratory Complex believes that its development of a large robotic arm that is able to 3D print building materials will help not only reduce the cost of housing but help to create a sustainable industry. What challenges does the construction industry present, what can the new robotic system do, and how could it lead to the development of future housing projects?
Makerbot and Ultimaker merge to form new desktop 3D printing company
Two big names in the 3D printing community have come together and agreed upon a merger (whose name is yet to be decided) that will see the formation of a powerful 3D printing company. Makerbot (who have extensive experience in the home market), and Ultimaker (another major desktop 3D printing technology developer), expect the new merger to be completed by the end of this month, and the completion of this merger will also see the public announcement of the new name. What new technologies will this merger enable, how much money is being invested, and what challenges will the merger see?
Kodiak demonstrates self-curbing system for autonomous trucks
While autonomous cars would make everyday driving a pleasant experience, the logistics industry has a serious economic incentive to implement autonomous technologies in haulage vehicles. However, should they go wrong, it is essential that the vehicle is able to recognise its surroundings and bring the vehicle to a stop in a safe location. Recently, Kodiak has announced the development of its new curbing system for autonomous trucks that it hopes will achieve this goal. What challenges do autonomous vehicles present, why do logistic companies desperately want autonomous trucks, and what does the announcement demonstrate?
Singapore announces trial of mobile autonomous robots in public spaces
Autonomous robotic systems have existed for decades, but they have only ever been used in extremely controlled environments such as industrial sites and warehouses. Bringing autonomous robotic systems into public spaces would open up robotics to so many new opportunities, however, this would require extensive testing in public spaces that can be unpredictable. Now, Singapore has announced that it will be trialling autonomous robotic systems developed by Continental and TUV SUD in public spaces to see how successful the systems are. What challenges do autonomous robotic systems face, who is involved, and what will happen if the trial is a success?
Eureka Robotics raises $4.2M in pre-Series A funding round
Eureka Robotics are a company founded by researchers from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTUS) and MIT. Their products, which include robotic control systems and software, are designed for systems requiring high accuracy and precision in industrial environments. Recently, Eureka Robotics announced that they have raised $4.2M in pre-Series A funding that was led by University of Tokyo Ede Capital Partners, and the raised funds will be used to further develop their main product line, the Eureka Controller. What other products does Eureka develop, who contributed to the funding, and what can their robotic systems do?
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Hardware Engineering News
Will 3D printing revolutionise dentistry?
It is a well-known fact that the uniqueness of each person’s mouth and teeth means that having a replacement tooth or complete dentures made is expensive. Currently, the dentistry industry relies on moulds and careful crafts to create replacement parts, but the development of 3D printing technologies may change this. In this article published by Dental Economics, learn how the author challenges modern dentistry, and why 3D printing technology will revolutionise patient care while reducing costs.
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Researchers develop algae-based battery able to operate a microcontroller for a year
Battery technologies are essential for driving innovation in the field of portable electronics with the ideal battery being one that is small, lightweight, able to hold charge indefinitely, and never deteriorates. In this pursuit of the perfect battery, researchers demonstrated a new battery that generates electricity from the photosynthesis of algae. Additionally, the battery was demonstrated to operate for over a year while continually powering a small ARM Cortex-M0+ microcontroller. What challenges do batteries present, what did the researchers develop, and could this algae battery be the key to remote electronics?
Robotic surgery demonstrated to be safer for patients while also improving recovery time
Robotic surgery systems are still in their infancy, and no one in their right mind would allow a robotic system to autonomously perform an operation. However, testing of robotic-assisted systems is already showing evidence that robotic equipment is not only safer for patients, but can even reduce the time of recovery thanks to lack of open surgery and minimal tissue damage caused. What robotic systems are currently in use by surgeons, what else did the data show, and when will robotic surgical equipment become mainstream?