3D Printed Robot Spider // Intel Project

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Bringing Together RealSense Technology, Robotics, 3D Printing, and More

EngadgetVentureBeat, and CNET are just a few of many talking about Big Mama, the sizable spider-like smart robot featured at Intel’s Developer Forum in San Francisco during Brian Krzanich’s keynote.

The CEO of Intel concluded the kick-off for IDF with an encore of the dancing robotic spiders previously demonstrated earlier in the year at Shenzhen. Yet this time, Krzanich welcomed to the stage an even bigger, better, further developed robotic arachnid of sorts equipped with Intel’s Core i7 processor for a brain and a RealSense camera for eyes.

In good fun, Krzanich told the audience this was Intel’s response to Jimmy Fallon’s comment on The Tonight Show back in April after sharing a clip of the gesture-controlled spiders as a featured tech story. The host said, “The end of the world is going to be fun.”

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Krzanich joked with conference goers, saying, “I don’t think robotic spiders are going to be responsible for the end of the world, but they could definitely start a new dance craze.” That is when Big Mama took center stage and danced to the beat of Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson with her spiderlings rocking out alongside. All kidding aside, Krzanich wanted to show off how far Intel has taken the project since the big reveal in China.

“Intel received a lot of publicity earlier in the year with their smaller spider robots, so for IDF this year, the Intel team wanted to do something that would make a real splash,” said Mike North of North Design Labs. “They wanted to create a huge version of their spider-bot.”

North’s team headed up the project for Intel with collaborative help from robotic specialists at Nidona and 3D printing experts at FATHOM.

To create the look of Big Mama as imagined by Intel, designers and engineers at North Design Labs looked to FATHOM for its 3D printing expertise and advanced manufacturing services.

First, the FATHOM team worked at modeling new leg cover plates to resemble the aesthetics of the previous year’s smaller robot leg components. Secondly, North wanted FATHOM’s designers to tackle the challenge of personifying the robot’s face by designing covers to camouflage the very discernible tablet screen.

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“Our design team chose to model the highly organic structures in Autodesk Fusion 360 because the platform was a suitable CAD package solution where we could take advantage of their Sculpt Workspace to pull on geometry in a clay-like fashion,” said Veronica De La Rosa, Lead Industrial Designer at FATHOM. “Then, we were able to take these organic forms in Fusion 360 Modeling Space and add parametric solid modeling components to attach to the robot’s mechanical features.”

Once the designs were completed, the FATHOM production team 3D printed thousands of durable, organic looking components in a variety of materials and sizes with extremely quick turnaround. The project included additively manufactured parts for the larger robot, as well as many smaller robots, totaling more than 9,000 pieces.

PolyJet, Fused Deposition Modeling, and Selective Laser Sintering (as shown below) are the three technologies used at both of FATHOM’s production centers (located in Oakland’s Jack London Square neighborhood and the Greater Seattle Area).

“In a very short time, literally a week, we were able to design it, 3D print it, and fit parts on the robot,” said North.

The team at North Design Labs have worked with additive technologies from FATHOM before—they know firsthand the freedom of design that comes with 3D printing. Just recently, FATHOM created a 3D printed and IoT connected leg cast for North (read). Other projects include the movie prop for Terry Gilliam’s feature length film The Zero Theorem (revad). North believes that opting to 3D print parts for the Intel project instead of using traditional manufacturing technologies was not only a great solution for an accelerated product development project of this kind, it was the definitive solution for many reasons.

One of those many advantages realized during design and development was the ability to achieve a specific lighting effect.

“The team envisioned the big spider-bot with LED’s but we didn’t want it to be a bunch of point sources,” said North. “By securing the LED’s behind the white, opaque 3D printed parts, the light was diffused. In the dark, the glowing organic spider-bot legs light up really nicely and it looks fantastic.”

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To learn more about projects at FATHOM, be sure to check out the blog // case studies, interviews, white papers, product reviews, and more.

Carolina Aguirre