Bridging the Gap: Robots Print the Way Forward

By COLIN DOBELL, President & CEO

Deep underground, there’s a robot. It’s traveling hundreds of metres down a pipe, in order to perform an infrastructure repair from the inside — by 3D printing metal into the rupture. How cool is that?

OK, so it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not that far off. 

Check out the 3D printed bridge that had the Internet buzzing this week. Set for completion in 2017 after just two months, a footbridge crossing a canal in Amsterdam will be constructed using  MX3D’s bot, consisting of an industrial robotic arm that can be programmed to weld any shape. Talk about the next industrial revolution — a robot that eliminates the need for scaffolding by using the actual structure it’s printing as support!

Back at Inuktun HQ, we use 3D printing technology in the prototype and design stage of our manufacturing process — take our manipulator jaw sets, for example: our engineering team relied on an in-house 3D printer to test the form and fit of each jaw set before sending the parts to the shop for machining. If you look closely at the accompanying image, you’ll see that the sampler and parallel jaw sets are 3D printed.

So Inuktun's robots might not be building their own infrastructure quite yet but, then again, you gotta crawl before you pioneer the next groundbreaking additive manufacturing process, right?