The Festo Bionic Handling Assistant made an appearance at the London Science Museum’s exhibition 3D: printing the future in the Antenna – science news this week. The feature showcases innovation in this exciting field and explores future applications for products made through the additive manufacturing process.
“The Science Museum is a fantastic place to visit for a family day out,” says Steve Sands, Product Management and Marketing Manager, Festo. “The 3D: printing the future exhibition demonstrates how innovators are using 3D printers to turn computer data into physical objects and how that is changing our lives. Being part of this exhibit also supports our continuing Tomorrow’s Engineers work, where we network to help inspire young people into careers in engineering.
Our designers developed the Bionic Handling Assistant concept using a selective laser sintering process to produce its complex bellow structures. The benefits of additive printing released the team from the restrictions of traditional manufacturing processes, enabling them to produce the complex but ultra-light weight handling arm.
Everything about the arm is optimised, reducing the number of individual parts to the absolute minimum. Despite the relatively hard polyamide material used, the design achieves a very high degree of flexibility which, when combined, enables 13 axis of freedom – a crude approximation of the elephant’s trunk that inspired the concept but a truly original idea for automation.
“Why the focus on lightweight?” continues Steve Sands. “Because it explores the concept of people working closely alongside robotic arms reducing fatigue, increasing productivity or eliminating exposure to dangerous or harmful activities.”
Further information on the Science Museum's 3D: printing the future exhibition can be found here.