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Barely visible to the human eye, a breed of microscopic 3D printed robots has been developed at Georgia Institute of Technology. Deemed “micro-bristle-bots” the devices can be be controlled by minute vibrations, making them capable of transporting materials, and detecting changes in the environment. Working together, like ants, the robots’ potential multiplies, unlocking a range of varied applications along the boundaries of mechanics, electronics, biology and physics.
The Georgia Tech team is now looking at ways to scale-up the micro 3D printing method used to make the bots, and produce “hundreds or thousands” of the devices in a single build. The results of the research are expected to have a positive impact in the biomedical sector, where micro-robots are becoming increasingly interesting for micro-assembly and maneuverability within the body.
Technology - Robust - Lot - Applications - Mind
“We are working to make the technology robust, and we have a lot of potential applications in mind,” comments Azadeh Ansari, assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. “It’s a very rich area [we’re working in] and there’s a lot of room for multidisciplinary concepts.”
Georgia Tech’s micro-bristle-bots are made using two photon polymerization (TPP), a method commercially marketed by Nanoscribe and Microlight3D. They consist of two parts – a piezoelectric actuator, and a 3D printed polymer body.
Body - Legs - Actuator - Way - Move
The body of the bristle-bot contains its legs, which move when the actuator starts to vibrate. The exact way the legs move, however, is determined by design. Depending on the angle of the legs, the bots can be tuned to move in a certain direction in response to vibrations. Ansari explains, “As the micro-bristle-bots move up and down, the vertical motion is translated into...
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