Jan 16, 2019 | By Thomas

"Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation" is the latest exhibition coming to Japan House London in January 2019. The exhibition will showcase the innovative 3D printed designs created by professor Shunji Yamanaka, who leads the Yamanaka Laboratory at the University of Tokyo. Yamanaka’s research focuses on re-examining the relationships between humans and man-made objects through projects such as beautiful prosthetics and life-like robots.

One of the interesting prototypes that "Prototyping in Tokyo" will bring to London is the ‘Ready to Crawl’, a series of 3D printed animal-inspired robots that can walk like real creatures. Each 3D printed animal was created in a single print and was powered by a single motor.

The “bio-like” robots were developed by Yamanaka, together with designer Hiroshi Sugihara at the University of Tokyo Prototyping & Design Laboratory and additive manufacturing researcher Keisuke Tanigawa.

As Sugihara explained of their Ready to Crawl project: “In this project we tried to make robots which were born in completed state like creatures by making all parts, excluding a DC motor, assembled by AM as one machine.”

Once the fully assembled CAD model was complete, they sent it to a selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printer, where it was printed, layer by layer, out of a bed of nylon powder material. Once printed, they simply had to remove all the extra nylon powder, and install a single DC motor in the designated spot.

To make the small robots move in a natural way, the designers used a novel transmission mechanism called 3Dimensional Cam. Amazingly, using this original mechanism, they were able to create a number of different animal robots, each inspired by a different type of movement. From the sliding shell creature called Ohmu, to the wriggling lizard called Tokage, to the scorpion like Yadokari, to the prickly and rotatable Radiolaria, to the scuttling Disk, each 3D printed creature can move in a unique way using the same central 3Dimensional Cam mechanism. The results are very impressive.

The current exhibition at Japan House focuses on three core themes: ‘Prosthetics’ is a range of interpretations of the “expanded human body”; ‘Bio-likeness robots’ are robots with life-like motion and behavior, giving the impression of intelligence; and ‘Additive Manufacturing’ is the taking of prototyping to the next level with 3-D printing which has allowed engineers and designers to create infinitely more complex prototypes.

Visitors can touch and interact 3D printed prototypes of lifelike robotic creatures and learn the stories behind the prototypes.

"Prototyping in Tokyo" runs for the first time in the UK from 16 January to 17 March 2019.

Professor Yamanaka is one of the most respected design engineers in Japan. His 2010 work, Tagtype Garage Kit, is part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

"When I design products for the market or prototypes for research, I don't intentionally draw on Japanese aesthetics for inspiration," said Yamanaka. "However, outside Japan, my works are often described as resembling 'Japanese style'. An art director from France once told me that the attitude of cherishing a basic element and adding nothing conveys the sense of Japan. An architect from Italy said that my design is minimal and rich, and that that is 'Japanese style'. A professor from the USA described his understanding of 'Japanese style' to me as the fusion of organic and machine-made.  Although what I am doing is simply searching for the common ground between science and beauty, people tend to find various interpretations of Japanese aesthetics in my designs. I look forward to seeing how people in the UK feel about my works.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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