Japanese designers from the Prototyping & Design Laboratory, the University of Tokyo created a set of 3D-printed critters that are hyper-realistic, complete with organic-seeming movements spurred by a tiny motor. The bio-robots are printed in one-piece, a complete body ready for motion, just like an actual living creature. The set of creatures are virtually designed using CAD, printed using Selective Laser Sintering 3D Printers, and are born nestled in chalky, nylon powder. After scientists dust off the powder, they reveal the intricate creatures inside.
The little robots rely on a transmission mechanism called "3Dimensional Cam," which allows their parts to roll in smooth, fluid, organic seeming motions. Scientists used complex curved surfaces and flexible structures available in 3D printing combined with the mechanisms using CAD to make these convincing critters. These robot-creatures can slide, crawl, slither, and rattle around a surface. The lizard model even has a flexible spine that can be picked up, while its head and tail continues to whirl.
The Ready to Crawl project became a finalist in the . "The 3D printer R&D community has long shared a common dream that one day we would see 3D printed matter independently walking about right before our eyes. This entry is a great achievement and one step in the direction of realizing this dream," said Hiroya Tanaka, a contest judge.
Seeing the cast of 3D-printed, man-made robot critics is mesmerizing and strangely beautiful.