Recently, a group of researchers developed RoMA. This is an interactive manufacturing system that uses virtual reality technology to model objects in 3D, while robotic 3D printers construct the design at the same time.
technologies such as additive manufacturing and virtual reality constitute the so-called fourth industrial revolution, and its influence continues to expand. Researchers are beginning to understand more deeply how they affect each other. For example, last year, VR has become an interesting tool for CAD modeling, enabling designers to innovate in 3D space.
Now, researchers have developed an interactive manufacturing technology that combines VR, CAD, 3D printing and robotics. Robot Modeling Assistant (RoMA) is a system that allows users to design 3D models in a VR setting, while also generating designs in real time using a robot 3D printer.
This concept is realized by letting the designer wear an Oculus Rift VR headset, which has the camera installed in the front and effectively enables the augmented reality function. A rotating platform is placed in front of the user, and 3D printing is performed by a robot printer located above the printing bed.
Using the installed camera, designers can view platforms, objects, and robots in AR headsets. The 3D CAD design is overlaid on the object, allowing users to create and modify the model, while the robot arm is 3D printed at the same time.
RoMA: Design in VR and create with 3D printing at the same time
It is reported that the team is composed of researchers from Cornell University, MIT CSAIL, University of Central Florida and the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany. Their goal is to eliminate the long waiting period between creating a design and a physical prototype.
Researchers show that this project not only helps to quickly turn ideas into reality, but users can 3D print onto objects or even print around them. In the research paper, the team showed how they successfully designed and 3D printed a toy jet stand, and also created a structure around various Lego components.
The team must take certain precautions when developing RoMA. RoMA operates according to specific guidelines to ensure user safety. For example, if the user happens to touch the printing platform, the robot arm will instinctively retract.
In addition, the robot arm is programmed to stay in its working area, eliminating the danger that may be caused to designers by VR. Moreover, if the user happens to enter the robot’s work area, the manual controller will use vibration as a warning.
Although this concept is still in the early stages of development, such a system has great potential. Currently, RoMA can only 3D print wireframes, but who knows if this idea will become more advanced with the continuous development of new technologies.