May 20, 2015 | By Simon

No matter how advanced we have gotten with a range of additive manufacturing technologies including faster speeds, higher resolutions and an increase in available material options - many might consider the ‘Holy Grail’ of 3D printing to be the ability to produce complete multi-system products on-demand.  While we’ve seen some incredible efforts - such as Voxel8's desktop 3D electronics printer, which features dual material capabilities by combining a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) printhead with a conductive silver ink printhead - the ability to produce complete objects is still a ways off into the future.  

For one design engineer by the name of Alex, the future couldn’t come soon enough - rather than waiting, he has created his own methods for ‘coprocessing’ 3D print jobs.  

Defined by Alex as “modifying a 3D printed job as it is being manufactured to produce integrated content,” the design engineer has used the technique of applying various components by hand during a printing process in the past to generate a variety of products, however it is latest use of the process - called “Print Out” - that he thinks is the coolest: a wheeled robot that can drive itself off of a 3D printer’s print bed once it has finished printing.  

Then, using a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, Alex started the coprocessing process by printing just the lower half of the robot in order to provide an initial housing foundation for the parts that would be added.  In total, the parts include an Arduino Mini, two continuous rotation servo motors, a long range Sharp IR sensor and a battery box.  After pausing the print midway through, all of the components were added to the part before the print was resumed to ultimately enclose all of the recently-added components.  

To ensure that the robot would intelligently be able to sense when it was done being printed, the IR sensor was pointed at the top of the MakerBot printer so that it would be able to record its distance from the top of the printer.  Once the sensor recognizes that the build plate has been fully lowered, the motors automatically activate and the robot part is capable of driving itself off of the print bed.  

While this ingenious little concept may be the future of self-replicating devices, it still requires a little bit of know-how to accomplish.  Thankfully, Alex has supplied full build instructions as well as all of the necessary files and code needed to try this neat little trick out for yourself over on his blog.  

“This demonstration of coprocessing shows that we can use the method to create integrated content,” adds Alex.

“The printed robot is a fully integrated system, and it expands the definition of additive manufacturing and 3D printing to incorporate not just layers upon layers of material, but other systems and components as well.”



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive