M.S. Thesis Presentation by Jacob Diez
Friday, March 2, 2001

(Dr. Ebert-Uphoff, advisor)

"Design for Additive Fabrication: Building Miniature Robotic Mechanisms "


Additive Fabrication is defined as building products in a process of adding material to the whole, as opposed to subtracting material from the whole (as is done in traditional manufacturing operations). Stereo Lithography is a layered manufacturing technique that performs Additive Fabrication. It is a precise process of building a three-dimensional object from a computer model by building one layer at a time. It utilizes a photosensitive liquid polymer resin, which becomes solid when a high-powered UV laser beam is focused on it. The building process can create geometry more complex than other manufacturing processes allow. New advances in Stereo Lithography allow two advantages that are employed in this project: compliant properties in resin as well as the capability to build around inserts.

For this thesis, the technique of Additive Fabrication will be used to integrate Robotics into the Stereo Lithography manufacturing process. The unique properties of Stereo Lithography are utilized to design miniature robotic mechanisms: including a miniature 2R robot, a human hand model, and planar digital clay. These mechanisms, which are built in ways that traditional manufacturing processes do not allow, show clear potential that building miniature robotic mechanisms can be quicker and cheaper using Additive Fabrication. The processes developed with this work indicate new ways to utilize Stereo Lithography, including the use of compliant joints as well as inserted actuators and sensors. These building methods will allow robotic mechanisms to be built in a non-assembly process, thus saving assembly costs. In the future, Rapid "Prototyping" processes could facilitate a mass-customized manufacturing operation producing final products.