Robotic Insects Take Flight on Printed Wings
By Charles Q. Choi, TechNewsDaily Contributor
Increasingly, so-called 3-D printers are being used to make items out of plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, even sugar and mashed potatoes. They do so by laying down layers of material much like ordinary printers and then fusing this material together with lasers, electron beams or other means.
Until now, making wings for machines that can effectively mimic the flight of insects and birds has proven a delicate and time-consuming process taking days or longer to complete.
"Production of an untethered, flapping-hovering machine itself is very challenging, and only a few have been made successfully to date," said researcher Hod Lipson, a roboticist at Cornell University.
Now, using 3-D printers, Lipson and his colleagues have shown they can reduce the time it takes to design flapping wings for mechanical insects to roughly an hour.