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Current Affairs > Science and Technology > 2019-01-24 > Science and Technology

3D-printed soft mesh robots

What in news:

         Researchers have created 3D-printed flexible mesh structures that can be controlled with applied magnetic fields while floating on water.

About news:

         Researchers at North Carolina State University have created 3D-printed flexible mesh structures that can be controlled with applied magnetic fields while floating on water.

         The structures can grab small objects and carry water droplets, giving them the potential to be useful as soft robots that mimic creatures living on water surfaces or that can serve as tissue scaffolds for cell cultures.

         This research shows capabilities in the emerging field of combining 3D printing and soft robotics.

         To create these structures, the researchers made an "ink" from silicone microbeads, bound by liquid silicone and contained in water.

         The resulting "homocomposite thixotropic paste" resembles common toothpaste, which can easily be squeezed out of a tube but then maintains its shape on your toothbrush without dripping.

         The researchers used a 3D printer to shape the paste into mesh-like patterns. The patterns are then cured in an oven to create flexible silicone structures that can be controlled -- stretched and collapsed -- by the application of magnetic fields.

         This self-reinforced paste allows to create structures that are ultra-soft and flexible.

         Embedding of iron carbonyl particles, which are widely available and have a high magnetization, allows to impart a strong response to magnetic field gradients.

         The structures are also auxetic, which means that they can expand and contract in all directions.

         With 3D printing, we can control the shape before and after the application of the magnetic field."

         The structures' properties also allow them to be used while floating on water, similar to water striders, or insects that skim or hop across water surfaces.

         Mimicking live tissues in the body is another possible application for these structures.

3D Printing:

         3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.

         The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes.

         In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created.

         Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

Robotics:

         Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineering, computer science, and others.

         Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.

Advantages of Robotics:

         Recent developments in the robotics world has made robots more user friendly, intelligent, and most importantly affordable.

         With these benefits of robotics it is no wonder that they have found jobs in every field.

         The benefits of robots has increased their flexibility with being capable of performing a variety of tasks and applications.

         Robots also allow for increased production and profit margin because they can complete tasks faster.

         Robots have the ability to work around the clock since they do not require vacations, sick days, or breaks.

         They also make fewer mistakes than humans, saving companies time.

         Other benefits of robotics is that they can work in any environment, adding to their flexibility.

         Robots eliminate dangerous jobs for humans because they are capable of working in hazardous environments.

         They can handle lifting heavy loads, toxic substances, and repetitive tasks.

         This has helped companies to prevent many accidents, also saving time and money.

         In the medical field robots are used for intricate surgeries such as prostate cancer surgery.

Expected prelims question

Consider the following statements

1.      3D printing is the process of making three dimensional solid objects.

2.      Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control.

Which of the above statements are correct.

a)      Only 1

b)      Only 2

c)      Both 1 and 2

d)      None of the above

Ans - c

Expected mains question

What do you understand by term Robotics. Describe it applications in various sectors and its significance for Humankind