Phidias LLC, a Michigan based company, has introduced a new low-cost manufacturing robot called Athena, that can 3D print various components required to make finished products.
Athena is a Personal Manufacturing Robot that can 3D print components such as circuit boards, plastics, pastes, foodstuffs and can also undertake vinyl and fabric cutting. Athena comes as a kit, with full instructions for proper assembly. Athena can also print its own parts, if necessary.
The tool holders that come with the robot are also 3D printed. The manufacturing robot runs on a flexible open-source software.
The personal manufacturing robot was developed after a thorough research on the uses of low-cost, open-source 3D printers revealed that high-value items could be produced in research laboratories.
“Research showed that open-source 3D printers had incredible value, but it was clear that they were woefully underutilized robotic systems,” said Jerry Anzalone of Phidias, LLC. “The trick was to figure out how to make an inexpensive machine and software that could fully exploit the complex motion control systems that drive them. We’ve done that.”
Most 3D printers cannot move heavy tools such as spindles that are used for milling printed circuit boards and pumps that dispense pastes and food items.
Athena is capable of handling both light and heavy tools. It can be used as a conventional 3D printer, or transformed into a mill or paste printer in less than a minute. Magnetic joints connect the moving parts and secure the different tools performing the printing tasks. Phidias has developed new software to build on this functionality.
“It’s really exciting to see what’s possible with Athena,” said Bas Wijnen, one of the company’s founders and Ph.D student, speaking of the new robot. “When people see what it can do, they start thinking about what else they might do with it.”
Video and image courtesy of Phidias LLC