Manufacturing & Prototyping

'Flexoskeleton' Method Quickly Creates Soft 3D-Printed Robots

Engineers at the University of California San Diego  have developed a new method to create soft, flexible, 3D-printed robots. The engineers were inspired by insect exoskeletons, which combine softness and rigidity for movement and support. Their "flexoskeletons" are made from 3D printing a rigid material on a thin sheet of polycarbonate that acts as a flexible base. They are printed with various features that increase rigidity in specific areas. The printed parts are easily swappable; one flexoskeleton component takes about ten minutes to print and costs less than a dollar.