Unversity of Leeds invests in the Objet1000, which has the first multi-color, multi-material 3D printer's capabilities, as well as the Objet500 Connex3 colour, a multi-material 3D printer.
In addition to on-site researchers, the government-backed centre’s 3D printing capabilities will support local businesses and technology partners.
Stratysys, a provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, yesterday announced the facility of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems at the University of Leeds. The centre has an advanced suite of robotic building equipment, including multi-material 3D printer, the Objet1000 from Stratasys, as well as the Objet500 Connex3 colour, multi-material 3D printer.
The new centre has received £4.3m in funding, and will be a resource for researchers and for local industry. It will create partnerships with companies interested in developing robotics.
“Robotics has been identified by the government as one of the areas where the UK can develop a technological edge, therefore it’s our vision to build a centre for robotics and autonomous systems,” says Dr Robert Richardson, director of the facility.
“With our 3D printing technology, we’ll be able to make robots that are smaller, more intricate, more flexible and more integrated than ever before,” adds Dr Richardson.
“Leeds already has a great track record in robotics for surgical applications, patient rehabilitation, prosthetics, and exploration.”
The Objet1000 is capable of 3D printing 1:1 scale parts combining rigid and soft materials in a single build. The technology will also allow its users to mix two base material to create over a hundred new digital materials, making robot design and production more versatile.
“If you think about it, combining hard and soft materials is critical to some of the most effective physical systems we know,” continues Dr Richardson. “The human body, for instance, has soft tissues, flexible cartilages, elastic tendons and rigid bones all working closely together.
“As an example, we recently developed a life-size reproduction of a human colon that includes compliant materials and was created from reconstructed MRI data using our Objet1000. We are currently developing techniques to 3D print more accurate tissue phantoms to facilitate the evaluation of surgical devices and robots.”
The lab also has a 3D visualisation studio that allows robot builders to inspect digital models of robot designs in fine detail prior to being 3D printed. Additionally there is Stratasys’ Objet500 Connex3 colour, a multi-material 3D printer.
Its triple-jetting technology will be used to produce robotic parts with many combinations of rigid, flexible, transparent and colour materials – all in a single print run, requiring no assembly.
“The National Facility for Innovative Robotics is a fantastic example of how the UK continues to invest significantly in innovation and technology,” says Andy Middleton, Stratasys’ senior vice president and general manager EMEA.