Instructables

Geoweaver: A Walking 3D Printer Hexapod

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Picture of Geoweaver: A Walking 3D Printer Hexapod
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Geoweaver is a student designed (team members Jia Wu, Mary Sek, and Jeff Maeshiro) robot created in the Creative Architecture Machines advanced options studio at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco, California, taught by Jason Kelly Johnson of Future Cities Lab and Michael Shiloh. The design is based on a 12-servo hexapod with a glue gun extruder attached, is the culmination of about 60 days of research and prototyping, and, as far as we can Google, is the world's first walking 3D printer. Although the robot's official name is Geoweaver, it also goes by many aliases: Servo Killer, Eater of Shields, Melter of Wires, and Destroyer of Regulators, among many others. It is a very difficult and delicate machine, and is not a project to be tackled for the faint of heart.

But if you do take it upon yourself to accept it's challenges, it's rewards are great: it is a six-legged, walking 3D printer. The center mechanism uses two servos to control the pendulum-like extruder head, allowing it to cover a basic XY plane (though curved to the surface of a sphere, see video above), and one servo for the extrusion gear that forces the glue-sticks through the "print head." All of this can be controlled through the software Rhino 5, with the plug-ins Grasshopper and Firefly (developed by our professor Jason).

First, we must mention an Instructable that aided us at the start of our prototyping, the Hot Glue Gun Extruder for Your CNC Machine or 3D Printer project. It gave us a great starting point for our print head and we were grateful for the leg-up. Second, we utilized this tutorial to figure out how to do spirals in Grasshopper, though the spirals we made came out pretty intense.

Third, here is a video of the 62 day development process with different material tests and trial robot versions.


Lastly, this project was devilishly and deviously difficult and would not have been possible without our professor Jason Kelly Johnson's guidance (even writing a custom Arduino-to-Firefly firmata for us to be able to use the servo shield, see Step 8). And of course our other professor Michael Shiloh's sure-handed advice, most especially with the wheeled toes, a pretty nifty bit of mechanical innovation, if we are permitted to say so. Thanks also to Andrew Maxwell-Parish of CCA's Hybrid Lab (and Instructables Artist In Residence ElectricSlim), your help with our projects was matched only by your enthusiasm for all of them. We are grateful to all three of you for your invaluable help.

Anyway, let's get Instructablesing.

Required Items (tools):

  • Vertical band saw
  • Phillips/flathead screwdriver in multiple sizes
  • Power drill and drill bits
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Measuring instruments, ruler or vastly preferably calipers
  • Laser cutter
  • 3D printer

Materials:

  • 15 high torque servos (complete with the "+" shaped servo horns and servo center screws that should come with the kit
    Bolts and locknuts (about 48 of them), or whatever bolts fit through your servo flange holes (the side holes). At least 3/8'' long (enough for the 1/4'' plastic or Al and a locknut to fit on there)
  • 1/8” at 24” x 48” sheet of plywood (for legs/center mechanism)
  • 1/4” at 24” x 48” sheet of plywood (for body)
  • 2 bags of hot glue
  • 1/8” at 11” x 17” sheet of acrylic (for extruder)
  • 3 bags of 100ct mini zip ties
  • Small gauge wire
  • Dowels
  • 6 rubber sink washers

Required items (electronics):

  • Arduino Uno
  • Servo shield
  • Computer
  • Male headers
  • Jumper wires (or single core wire suitable for breadboards)
  • Servo extension cables

Required items (programs):

  • Rhino 5
  • Grasshopper plugin (for Rhino 5)
  • Firefly plugin (for Grasshoppper)
  • Arduino
 
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besttails3 months ago

This is incredibly inspirational. Thanks!

ground up6 months ago
Does it really need to walk? Wouldn't it be easier to have treads or something.
msophalsek (author)  ground up6 months ago
Yes, the concept is explore walking and printing at the sametime then we can print a large object by a small robot.
I guess I'm not as bright as you folks because I don't get what it will be used for. I know it must of took a lot of effort I just can't wrap my brain around what it would be used for.
msophalsek (author)  definitelyjulia6 months ago
thanks for the comment,That is ture, it is hard to tell what is used for now, and many people said it looks like a toy :(
Yes, as our second robot project, a walking, printing concept is too ambitious, we did see many potential(maybe too many), but didn't make it supper clear and perfect, and I think in this time, we more concern how to control a hexapod walk, we can control all this movement through 3d design programs such as Rhino and grasshoper!(we are all architecture students). the big idea is in the furture robot can build in the real world what desiner drew in the computer... and we did make it walk more and more precise in a flat surface, it can walk flow a straight line or a curve line, or rotate, and printing in the sametime. but we also hope it can walking in different topograph, so we built a base for testing which can show in the photo, and the topo make the control imprecise, we didn't have a solution so far, but we still want to show this potential and imprecise to people, because this is the point for using six legs... maybe this imprecise print in the weird base confuse you.
and agree with Schumi23, the extruder can be improved, maybe a 3 axis arm, and use PLA instead of glue...always close to the ground...ah...a lot of work to do! always! :)
Without constraints of a fixed size build platform, doesn't this approach allow for a large build size from a small printer? From my perspective, one of the biggest constraints of cheap 3d printers is size. This approach has potential to over come this, but I imagine some programming challenges to overcome if the hexapod has to climb over the object it is building, but definitely achievable.
True. As it is now, the first implementation, it isn't much use. But think of it's potential. It's proof that a mobile 3D printer could function. Imagine someone else perfecting the extruder, making it closer to the ground - switching glue for filament. Making it more precise.
True. It's not perfect. But it can become amazing.
This is a really cool concept. I can imagine something like this being used to add 3D printed parts onto something, Sometimes you need a fairly large low detail object with a few complex parts. If it could crawl over an object, spray down some glue and print on it you could make all kinds of things. For example, you could make pin lugs onto the end of wood beams.
benwade6 months ago
02170
Dark Solar6 months ago
neat idea although i'm a bit leery of having a robot creeping around my house pooping out thermoplastic
J-Five6 months ago
Look's like an UFO!!
extraordinary, scale it down enough and wait for grey goo...
schumi236 months ago
This is great. (As I answered to definitelyjulia) - I can't wait to see what people do with your design.
biggestdog4207 months ago
I could see a version of this used in agriculture for weed and pest control.
wnq7 months ago
amaze!
ashtonias7 months ago
This just makes me think of stargate and replicators...
Cool! Didn't even know about this, guess we'll have to start working on the human version next.
jasonkjohnson7 months ago
Great work guys - I am super proud! Thanks, Jason