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Festo 3D Cocooner: bionic lattice structures from the robotic spinneret

3D Cocooner

Bionic lattice structures from the robotic spinneret

Whether webs to catch prey or protective cocoons – spiders and butterfly caterpillars can create amazing shapes with the help of their spinning threads. With the 3D Cocooner, we have developed a bionic technology test bed that spins complex and stable shapes from a glass fiber thread, very similar to these natural structures.

Stable lightweight construction method in a three-dimensional space

To convert the soft thread into a solid lattice structure, it is moved jacketed with a special resin in the spinneret. As soon as it comes out of the nozzle, a UV light cures the resin-soaked fiber with absolute accuracy and hardens it into a sturdy little rod. The thread can be attached at any point of the lattice structure so that the shape can continue being built. It is even possible to design complex shapes in three-dimensional space without any supports.

Direct actuation of the parallel kinematic system

The 3D Cocooner uses as its industrial robot a vertically mounted parallel kinematic system type EXPT-45. The high-speed industrial robot can be controlled precisely and quickly in space and its mobility makes it ideal for such tasks. The parallel kinematic system receives the necessary position data and control signals directly from an animation software, in which the 3D shape model of the desired structure is generated by parameters.

From the virtual model to the finished object

In addition to the designed form model, the entire industrial robot is visually stored in the program. This allows the complete path planning to be calculated live, optically simulated and transmitted to the real paths of the parallel kinematic system without any intermediate steps. This direct transition from the design tool to the production tool is very unusual in the current production environment. However, it is an important prerequisite for individualized production in the future.