NTU Singapore
Lum Guo Zhan, Yang Zilin and Xu Changyu, with inset photo of robot

Design Insights: Robotics in Miniature; Micro 3D Printing; Automation Reimagined

July 12, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

Robotics In Miniature

Robots aren’t always hulking and stationary muscle machines. There’s an entire branch of the field devoted to microrobotics, as a recent Machine Design article notes.

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed miniature robots that can be controlled using magnetic fields to perform highly maneuverable and dexterous manipulations. The millimeter-sized robots, or untethered actuators, were designed with magnetic microparticles embedded into biocompatible polymers (non-toxic materials that are harmless to humans).

The advantage, as a researcher notes, is their use in fields where a small size factor can be crucial, such as medicine. The miniature robots measure about the size of a rice grain, which make them suitable for reaching confined and enclosed spaces. Another use is in the biomedical field for applications such as assembling lab-on-chip devices that can be used for clinical diagnostics by integrating several laboratory processes on a single chip.

Micro 3D Printing

Another big application for small technology is 3D printing miniaturization. A new white paper from Machine Design and Boston Micro Fabrication looks at a unique technology that produces parts faster and more precise than standard methods with the repeatability needed for today’s applications.

Automation Reimagined

Whatever opportunities and challenges are presented in a more automation work environment, the first step remains the hardest—getting started. Companies are still not clear on where to start when it comes to system considerations or the challenges that lie ahead, except that maintaining a skilled workforce will continually be part of their needs. A new white paper from Machine Design and Siemens includes a survey to help companies get a better understanding on what might be required for their automation transition and how to evaluate and select the right vendor for them.

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