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Robotics Medicine Technology

3D Printing a 'Terminator' Arm ... Or a Whole Body 29

Posted by timothy
from the one-hand-behind-your-back dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "One of the 600 3D-printed objects on display at a new London Science Museum exhibit is a Terminator-lookalike prosthetic arm designed by a 3D printing research group at the University of Nottingham, to demonstrate how printers can create both strong structural pieces, multi-directional joints and electronics to power touch sensors as part of a single process. "It's a mock-up but it shows circuits that sense temperature, feel objects and control the arm's movement," according to Richard Hague, director of the university's Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Research Group. The design is a step up in complexity from Robohand, an open-source engineering project launched in 2011 to design printable prostheses for those who have lost fingers or hands. The project posted many of its designs, including a full set of anatomically driven mechanical fingers, online for free download. Other manufacturers are exploring how robotics can best intersect with the human body and its need for replacement parts: pieces from 17 manufacturers went into "The Incredible Bionic Man," a full-body robotic prostheses assembled from artificial organs, limbs and other parts to demonstrate the current state-of-the-art for a Smithsonian Channel documentary due to air Oct. 20. The robot is 6'7, and able to stand and take a step with assistance; it contains a functioning heart, kidney, arms, legs, eyes and other parts. It also has a prosthetic, mobile face designed as a replacement for people who have lost noses or other features to accidents or disease."
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3D Printing a 'Terminator' Arm ... Or a Whole Body

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  • Slight problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @03:06AM (#45107389)
    The problem with web design is the really talented artists have no technical skills and the technical designers have little artistic ability. Welcome to 3D design of prosthetic limbs like noses and fingers, as the article mentioned. You think a doctor can sculpt a realistic nose in a 3D design software. Hell no! You think a graphics artist can make it medically perfect and attach it? Hell no. So this is not nearly as smooth as the article makes it seem.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      ...that's actually not that much of a probem. sculptors are pretty good. doesn't matter if they're only good with clay either.

      there's bigger problems though. like that journalists print stuff like " contains a functioning heart, kidney, arms, legs, eyes and other parts. ". so great we can just do artificial parts of all those right? well fuck no, we can't. artificial being a key word here - better wording would be "mock up". because that's what those parts on the bionic man is.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        contains a functioning heart, kidney

        Actually "flying cars" hype journalism aside there is a lot of work going on with printing of biological materials, I recall something about nerve cells at the University of Newcastle (Australia) last year. Functioning human organs may not be that far away.
        Also, with more conventional plastic 3D printing, I think it was in 2002 that I saw a 3D printed model skull that was used by a plastic surgeon to plan a skull reconstruction of greatly deformed child (about 1/4 of hi

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          yes a lot has gone into it which is why claiming that their model has an actual functioning kidney is even worse! many people might think that they actually can get that then.. it would be awesome if they actually had functioning eyes, heart etc(which is why it's in the summary and article. because it would be awsome).

          titanium printed parts have been used alot, pourous so bone builds on them. but that is a long, long way from functional vital organs.

        • The biggest advantage that could be achieved in 3D printing is the self replicating printer. That would seem to be the best focus for a first design.
          There are many ways to achieve that goal and I have tested several methods that can be integrated in a single device. The challenges include working directly to metals, printed electronics, precision and speed. These are all attainable goals and it seems that the hype goes more to what can be done to monetize and control the industry of 3D printers.
          There is n
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Holy generalizations Batman!

      This line in the sand you describe is practically imaginary. 80% of the knowledge comes from 20% of the effort so the dichotomy of specialization is way overblown. At my workplace every engineer has a job title like mechanical, electrical, or computer. But those are only specializations within the broader category of "engineer" which by no means excludes painting, medicine, computer science, or designing PCBs just because their business card calls them "Mechanical".

      Artistic desig

  • It's a nerdy looking robot, and does Terminator look nerdy?
    I think not!

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Saturday October 12, 2013 @09:20AM (#45108299)

    Fab@Home's approach makes more sense to me: have multiple attachments that can extrude a variety of materials. So you have one set of nozzles that print the circuits and another that prints the structural components. Layer-by-layer deposition that's used now would probably not survive because of the different amounts of contraction as different materials cool, or the possibility that the deposition of a metallic material would re-melt structural material and distort it.

    Rate of printing is also a limiting factor now, but at least one of the models I saw at the Maker Faire in NYC a couple weeks ago was addressing that problem by having multiple nozzles. But give it time. We're in the very, very early days yet. 6 years ago Bre Pettis, the founder of MakerBot, was teaching public school in Brooklyn. We're only a couple years past when the first model hit the market, and with the rate of evolution we've seen so far it won't be long at all before the whole world has changed.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, Roland didn't sell the Modela in the 1990s, it was all a dream. It's Bre Pettis that invented 3D printing. Oh boy.
      • Yes and computers existed before the Apple IIe. But it was Apple that made computers a household item. So pointing out, hey, ENIAC pre-dated Apple so they're no big deal misses the point in the same way you're missing it.

        MakerBot did not invent 3D printing, but they are popularizing it by making it affordable enough for mass adoption. What we're looking at right now is the Apple IIe of 3D printers.

  • I'd argue that missing a brain is missing an effing whole lot more than just 30-40% of what makes us human.
  • the Smithsonian Channel original documentary, "The Incredible Bionic Man."

    Not original at all. If you want to see the what's likely the entire program before it airs on Smithsonian, it's almost certainly a dubbed over and slightly recut version of the Channel 4 documentary How to Build a Bionic Man [channel4.com]. Same presenter, same robot, aired back in February. UK viewers (or those with a UK proxy) can watch it on 4od [channel4.com], those outside the UK can likely fine a torrent with ease.

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