May 29, 2016 | By Benedict

Sho Yoshida, a Japanese engineer, has designed a 3D printable robot called “Shellmo”. The machine consists of four technical “layers”, and is entirely open source, enabling makers to build, hack, and even sell the 3D printed bot as they please.

Every now and again, a 3D printing project comes along which promises not only a technical challenge, but the prospect of a new friend. Shellmo, the loveable, bug-like robot, is one of those projects. Make no mistake, the DIY robot is definitely a challenge for makers, with its four layers—motor, core, shell, and accessory—each presenting their own technical challenges. At the center of Shellmo, however, is a heart. Literally, in fact: inspired by an interaction with his doctor, Yoshida designed a 3D printable LED heart for Shellmo’s insides in order to “exert psychological effects on us”. Somehow, it works.

So why the name “Shellmo”? A nod to Yoshida’s favorite muppet, or something more? According to the designer himself, the name refers to the concept of a “shell module”, which is exactly what the top layer of the 3D printed robot happens to be. The printable exoskeleton is fully modular, with each piece able to be replaced by another to alter the appearance of the robot. Yoshida has already published two complete shell designs for Shellmo: Cambria, and Zero. The former is the green, bug-like exterior seen on most of these photographs, while the latter is a darker, more geometrical design that wouldn’t look out of place in the Transformers universe.

Ever since his first encounter with additive manufacturing technology, Yoshida had wanted to create something special using a 3D printer: “One day, I had a chance to use an industrial version of a 3D printer,” he told Open Source magazine. “I was honestly astonished and shocked when the 3D printer began to synthesize the model that I had designed. Seeing it taking form and shape before my very eyes with mere plastic powder was stunning…I remember finding it miraculous that 3D printing allowed one to easily and freely traverse between one's imagination and reality.”

The 3D printing history behind Shellmo is extensive, with the technology acting as an integral part of the entire project. “If I were the father of Shellmo, then [the] 3D printer would be the mother of Shellmo,” Yoshida admits. Most parts of the robot’s body are 3D printable, and—according to its maker—can be most easily created using a third-party service such as Shapeways. This is because the intricacy of some of the parts could purportedly present a challenge for some desktop 3D printers.

Not wanting to exclude any makers from the Shellmo experience, however, Yoshida is currently refining the 3D design to make it more suited to desktop 3D printers. The designer hopes that this optimization could reduce the total cost of building the robot by more than 90 percent, with a Shapeways-produced Shellmo currently costing around $310 when printed in White Nylon material.

With its amiable lidded eyes, Shellmo might look more like a toy than a serious robotics project, but the giant bug packs some impressive technical features. The robot can be controlled remotely via Bluetooth, on either Android or Windows operating systems. This is thanks to a dedicated app, developed by Yoshida for Shellmo, which features an intuitive interface and various movement controls, including a “speed bar” and “acceleration bar”.

Things get a little bit weirder further down the Shellmo website homepage, as Yoshida suggests incorporating a functional 3D printer within the Shellmo robot itself, creating a walking, printing “Shellmo Reproductor”. The designer has some ideas about the philosophical implications of creating such a machine. He asks: “Why is it necessary to make a 3D printer walk?” The reason, he says, is that “animals, including ourselves, are deeply linked to certain movements.” Yoshida then asks you, the collective readership, to “try to imagine what [those movements] are yourselves.”

Ultimately, Yoshida believes that the relationship between Shellmo and a 3D printer is much the same as the relationship between a computer game and the console on which it is played. “When considering Shellmo's business development, the 3D printer that guarantees the making of Shellmo is extremely important,” the designer explains. “However, there is no need for this 3D printer to walk,” he concedes.

All 3D printing files and detailed info can be found on the Shellmo website.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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arman-tech wrote at 5/31/2016 8:58:07 AM:

A job well done.

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