The government-backed centre has the most advanced suite of robot building equipment in the UK.
The University of Leeds has unveiled the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems including the world’s largest multi-material 3D printer, the Objet1000 from Stratasys, as well as the Objet500 Connex3 colour, multi-material 3D printer.
The government backed facility is being funded as a platform for researchers and local industry alike and is set to put the city at the forefront of UK robot design and construction.
“Robotics has been identified by the Government as one of the areas where the UK can develop a technological edge, therefore it’s our vision to build a world-leading centre for robotics and autonomous systems,” says Dr Robert Richardson, Director of the facility. “With our 3D printing technology, we’ll be able to make robots that are smaller, more intricate, more flexible and more integrated than ever before.”
This deal made by Stratasys re-seller Tri-Tech 3D is a UK first for the Objet1000 which is capable of 3D printing huge 1:1 scale parts in a combination of materials all in a single build and enabling users to mix two base materials on-the-fly to create over a hundred new digital materials.
“If you think about it, combining hard and soft materials is critical to some of the most effective physical systems we know,” continues Dr Richardson. “The human body, for instance, has soft tissues, flexible cartilages, elastic tendons and rigid bones all working closely together.
“As an example, we recently developed a life-size reproduction of a human colon that includes compliant materials and was created from reconstructed MRI data using our Objet1000. We are currently developing techniques to 3D print more accurate tissue phantoms to facilitate the evaluation of surgical devices and robots.”
The lab is also equipped with a 3D visualisation studio that allows robot builders to inspect digital models of robot designs in fine detail prior to being 3D printed.
Stratasys’ Objet500 Connex3 colour, multi-material 3D printer will be used to produce complex robotic parts with virtually unlimited combinations material properties and colour materials in a single print run.
“The National Facility for Innovative Robotics is a fantastic example of how the UK continues to invest significantly in innovation and technology,” says Andy Middleton, Stratasys’ Senior Vice President and General Manager EMEA. “It is always refreshing to see researchers push the boundaries of their fields using our most advanced 3D printing technology, in this case the next generation of robotics.”