Tuesday, 22 Mar, 2011 Technology
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Roboticists Use 3D Printer to Make Wings for Robotic Insect

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Three-dimensional printers are becoming more and more popular, being used to print out different objects made of glass, plastic, metal and sugar.

Recently a team of roboticists from Cornell University used 3D printers to make delicate, transparent wings for mechanical insects.

The team led by Charles Richter and Hod Lipson was able to create a flapping-wing aircraft (aka ornithopter). The aircraft weights only 3.89 grams and can stay in the air for 85 seconds. It is the lightest and currently the longest flying model researchers were able to build.

The results of their work were published in the latest issue of Artificial Life.

The article says that the developments made by the team will help roboticists understand the main mechanical principles to insect flight and control.

In the future, according to the researchers, it would be possible to create low-power micro air vehicles that would carry out such operations as mapping, surveillance and search-and-rescue.

The most difficult and time-consuming process was making the wings, which took several days to complete. It is worth mentioning that the wings are made of a thin polyester film extended over a carbon fiber frame. Three-dimensional printing allowed researchers to create all of the sophisticated components in just minutes, reports Discovery.

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