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Robotics Technology

Foam-Spraying Quadcopter Becomes a Flying 3D Printer 34

Zothecula writes "The swiftlet may not look much different than other little birds, but it has one unique ability – it builds its nest out of its own saliva. Inspired by the swiftlet, scientists at Imperial College London's Aerial Robotics Lab have created a robotic quadcopter that can extrude polyurethane foam while in flight. By targeting where that foam goes, it can build up simple structures, essentially becoming a flying 3D printer."
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Foam-Spraying Quadcopter Becomes a Flying 3D Printer

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  • Hopefully it's more accurate than Ketchupbot was...
  • Except that, as a regular /. reader, I'm becoming a little desensitized to these things.
  • by Oysterville ( 2944937 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @03:10PM (#46968247)
    With this I feel now more than ever that my job isn't nearly as fun as it should be.
  • um (Score:5, Funny)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @03:22PM (#46968295)

    ok, so we're now basically calling anything that moves a robot? and anything that deposits any sort of material a 3D printer?

    My ass has been 3D printing better stuff that this since the 70s. It does it totally automatically so it's the best robotic 3D printer on the market!

  • 3D Printing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ByTor-2112 ( 313205 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @03:22PM (#46968301)

    Why do we continue to call all of this shit "3D Printing"? Why not fabrication? And squirting foam from a drone is a long way from a "printer".

    If it doesn't put ink on a piece of paper, it's NOT a printer.

    • Silly String has the original patent on 3D printing. They are just waiting to strike.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Why not fabrication?

      Because fabrication is too general a word. The proper name is "additive manufacturing".

      But fabrication can include many processes, including subtractive manufacturing (usually CNC machine), simply bolting two parts together to form a third, nailing things together, injection molding, etc. And it can involve multiple processes - additive followed by subtractive, etc.

      In fact, combining the existing tools of being able to injection mold some stuff, add and subtract bits can easily manufactu

  • ...that movie "Batteries Not Included"?
  • Remember Total Annihilation (now rebooted as Planetary Annihilation)? Reminds me of the concept in that game of nanolathing, ie spraying nanite construction bots to build a structure or vehicle, either from a mobile platform (vehicle, kbot or plane) or static factory.

  • First thing that came to mind when I saw this link was 'Singularity Sky' by Charles Stross. I'd direct anyone curious about it to look up the novel instead of me trying to explain it fully. But it's a very interesting idea that someone has came up with here. And as with any new technology like this it does have interesting possibilities. Like a flying tool kit that will make anything you'd like if you'll just tell it a story.
  • Polyurethane foam homes have already been built. Usually it involves a bag full of air and a coating being sprayed on the bag. Now we could do this with a hoard of quad copters. We could even hold burlap in place suspended from quad copters while special shapes were formed. Obviously foam homes are energy efficient and very low maintenance. The shock is that they can also be quite strong and wind resistant as well. The thickness of the foam shell is only limited by the dept of your wall

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker