Yay! This week was productive! More experiments with Sketchup and my 3D printer: printable universal joints (click that link if you don’t know what a Universal Joint is — the animation will make it clear). There are a LOT of ways to create a universal joint, but this is my own design (version 0.1) working under the constraint that it had to be printable (and that’s a big constraint that I won’t go into here). Here is the result:
I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted the challenge of making this beast with NO screws, bolts or nuts. It’s strictly snap-together and can sustain very large forces acting on it (which means it was really, really hard to put together!). Also, u-joints + wire + servos + arduinos = animatronics! This will end up in either a cool robot or costume. It can be used in robotic tentacle-type grips or robotic tails.
For those of you that might not know what 3D printing is all about, here’s a 30 second video of the my “Kevbot 3000″ printer in action. The universal joint took over two hours to print in total, so this really is just a tiny sample:
3D printers like mine melt a plastic filament (a whole lot like what you feed into a weed-eater) and extrude it layer by layer into whatever shape you want. We really are living in the future for anyone that wants to expend the time and energy to get there!