Aug 14, 2015 | By Simon

While there are seemingly more 3D printing projects in existence today than one could possibly complete in a lifetime, it goes without saying that some might be worthwhile than others.  Of course, one way of approaching which 3D printing projects to pursue is to consider how many other skills might be learned in the process.  Among others, this is one reason why robotics have been so popular in some 3D printing communities.

Considering that a robotics project more often than not consists of both hardware and software skills, it becomes clear just why they’re so popular amongst designers, engineers, makers and hobbyists.    

In an effort to make the process of building a robot from scratch using 3D printing methods as seamless as possible, Neuron Robotics, a Worcester, Massachusetts-based startup, has recently unveiled Bowler Studio, a new robot development application that combines scripting and device management with powerful control and processing features.

Designed to assist users during every step of a robotics project from concept to completion, Bowler Studio enables users to - among other things - interface with motors, sensors, and other electronics hardware, create 3d models for fabrication and simulating the motions of a project, adding sight to a robot with image processing on camera feeds and Kinect data, create custom graphical user interfaces for controlling a robot, creating and controlling animations and operating 3D printers and CNC machines.  

All of this is possible thanks to the full power of The OpenCV image processing library, a Configurable kinematics engine based on D-H parameters, A Fully Featured JCSG based Cad and 3d Modeling engine, and a built in WebKit browser capable of viewing documentation and executing code directly from Github Gists.

According to the Neuron team, scripts can be loaded from the Local File System and edited using an editor of your choice or loaded from straight out of the web browser from any compatible Github gists for a truly "backed up in the cloud" coding experience.

An example of how a user might use Bowler Studio as a device manager, scripting engine, CAD package, and simulation tool all in one application would be in the development of a kinematic robotic arm using the D-H parameters-based automatic kinematics engine .

Using the kinematics model created by the engine, the user could then generate the necessary CAD files for new unique parts to match the desired output.  Once the files have been created, the user can then export the assembly as STL part files and connect a 3D printer to the program.

Once the newly-generated part has been printed, the user could connect a DyIO and test the servos with the original kinematics model.  Then, the user could assemble the arm with the tested servos and run the model again to control the arm with Cartesian instructions.  Once this has been done, a user could then attach a controller (such as a Wiimote) to train the newly-assembled robotic arm through a series of tasks while recording them with animation framework that’s been built into the program.   

Finally, to be sure that the arm is moving and operating as intended, a user can attach a webcam and use OpenCV to verify the arm's position, or use the arm (in conjunction with the webcam with OpenCV enabled) to track and grab objects (IE "eye-in-hand" tracking).

Although the entire process from start to finish is still a challenging build for most casual users, Bowler Studio is without a doubt an incredibly useful tool for somebody to look into before their next robot build.  Currently, the program is still under development but it appears that the Neuron team is steadily moving forward with their new builds.  

Thankfully, the program is available for all three of the most common operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux) and is currently available to download for free over at Neuron Robotics and GitHub.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Kevin Harrington wrote at 9/18/2015 4:11:20 AM:

Hey, we just launched the Kickstarter for this project.

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