This type of “one-stop-shop” could be beneficial for product developers, makers, researchers, and educators looking to rapidly prototype things like wearables, robots, and printed electronics.
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A new system called ‘LaserFactory’ is capable of printing functional, custom-made devices without human intervention. It was used to fabricate a fully-functional drone.
The system’s software toolkit helps to design devices and coordinates with its hardware platform to fabricate. LaserFactory was developed by a group from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
“Making fabrication inexpensive, fast, and accessible to a layman remains a challenge,” Martin Nisser, CSAIL PhD student and lead author on a paper about LaserFactory, said in a release. “By leveraging widely available manufacturing platforms like 3D printers and laser cutters, LaserFactory is the first system that integrates these capabilities and automates the full pipeline for making functional devices in one system.”
LaserFactory can be used to create structural geometry, print traces, and assemble electronic components like sensors and actuators. Nisser said that this type of “one-stop-shop” could be beneficial for product developers, makers, researchers, and educators looking to rapidly prototype things like wearables, robots, and printed electronics.
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According to MIT, the team hopes to enhance the quality and resolution of the circuit traces, which would allow for denser and more complex electronics.
“In the future, people shouldn’t be expected to have an engineering degree to build robots, any more than they should have a computer science degree to install software,” Nisser said.