Aug 12, 2016 | By Benedict

A team of Scottish roboticists has used 3D printing to create PP3D, a 110-kilo 3D printed fighting robot that is currently competing in the British robot-battling TV show Robot Wars. The team behind PP3D used 3D printing to create several prototype parts and a handful of small end-use parts.

Team PP3D: (L-R) Jamie McHarg, Gary Cairns, and Sarah Dennis

Back in the late 1990s, Britain’s Friday night TV schedule was unmissable: The Simpsons, Top of the Pops, and Robot Wars, all within the space of a few hours. But while The Simpsons was a U.S. import and Top of the Pops simply a roundup of the week’s music charts, Robot Wars was truly a national treasure. The futuristic game show pitted budding roboticists against one another in a remote-control gladiatorial battle; the robots would fight one-on-one, tearing chunks out of each other with hydraulic lifts, circular saws, and other mechanical weaponry, all the while avoiding pitfalls, fire, and the notorious “house robots”—a band of heavyweight destruction machines intent on making life as difficult as possible for the contestants.

The show was a hit for a few years, but was axed by the BBC in 2003 due to poor viewing figures. Rival network Channel 5 picked up the series for a season, but similarly poor figures brought an end to the show in 2004. Earlier this year, to the delight of nostalgic robot lovers (and perhaps haters), the BBC announced that the show was being rebooted for a six-part season following the 12-year hiatus. Best of all, the show was due to showcase some 3D printed robots. While that claim may have proved to be a slight exaggeration—makers of 110kg fighting bot PP3D used 3D printing to create a handful of “custom brackets and other small pieces” and to prototype various components—we’ll certainly be rooting for the additive-associated machine when its takes part in a fight to the metallic death this weekend.

The partially 3D printed PP3D

PP3D, which stands for “parts printed in 3D,” is a heavyweight fighting robot armed with a lethal 31kg undercutting flywheel mounted to the robot’s underside. The machine is mostly made from Hardox, an abrasion-resistant steel, and features a T-shaped chassis. Those unacquainted with the rich history of Robot Wars would be forgiven for wondering whether PP3D is merely a novelty entry due to its 3D printing tag, but the fearsome robot is definitely the real deal: team captain Gary Cairns, who hails from the Scottish village of Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, won season 7 of the battle show when he was a teenager, and hopes to replicate that success with his new, partially 3D printed creation.

In the years following his Robot Wars glory, Cairns formed a 3D printing company called PlastiPrint 3D, hence the engineer’s willingness to use additive technology while creating PP3D. Cairns and the rest of his team—fiancee Sarah Dennis and friend Jamie McHarg—developed full-scale 3D printed replicas of motors, batteries, and electronics, around which the chassis was built. The 3D prints were then swapped out when the real versions arrived.

PP3D motors

Behind the scenes with PP3D and Season 7 winner Typhon II

Laser-cut parts for PP3D and other robotics projects

In addition to the prototype parts, a handful of custom brackets and other small components were also made for PP3D using a 3D printer—these parts remain inside the robot, and will hopefully survive the mechanical carnage to come. According to its creator, PP3D required the help of additive manufacturing, because the show’s organizers gave the team just two months to build their robot. “3D printing was instrumental in allowing us to complete the project on time,” Cairns said. “Without the ability to mock up parts quickly and create custom brackets in a few hours, we wouldn't have been able to compete on the show.”

The partially 3D printed PP3D, which has a top speed of 12mph, will compete against non-printed robots Apollo, Kan-Opener, and Sweeney Todd in Episode 4, which airs this Sunday, August 14.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Steve_C wrote at 8/20/2016 7:11:37 AM:

Quote: "...airs this Sunday, August 14." And the winner was? Don't tell me it was... "Beetle bomb"

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