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Design Tool Enables 3D-Printed, Flexible Mechanisms

Researchers from Disney Research Zurich, ETH Zurich, and Carnegie Mellon University have created a computational design tool that enables the 3D printing of flexible, bendable mechanisms. Their method can transform a design for a 'conventional, rigidly articulated device' into a flexible mechanism that fulfills the same function. This input can be both planar or spatial, and supports a number of common joint types which, whenever possible, are automatically replaced with parameterized flexures. The research team has demonstrated their method on a set of examples that range from simple structures to full-fledged animatronics, and manufactured physical prototypes.