Festo – “3D Cocooner” Bionic Lattice Structures from the Robotic Spinneret

By Festo

  • Bionic lattice structures from the robotic spinneret

Whether in the form of a net to catch prey, or a protective cocoon, spiders and caterpillars can create amazing shapes with the help of their spinning threads. With the 3D Cocooner, Festo has developed a bionic technology platform that spins complex and equally stable shapes, which are very similar to these natural structures.

Photo courtesy of Festo AG & Co. KG

Stable lightweight construction method in three-dimensional space
In order to convert the soft thread into a solid lattice structure, it is covered with a special resin in the spinneret. As soon as it comes out of the spinneret, a UV light cures the resin-soaked fibre with pinpoint accuracy and hardens it into a sturdy little rod. During the process, the thread can be reset at any point on the lattice structure, where it continues to build. In this way, it is possible to construct even complex shapes in three-dimensional space without any supports.

Direct control of the tripod kinematics
A vertically arranged tripod of type EXPT-45 acts as a handling system for the 3D Cocooner. The high-speed handling system can be controlled quickly and precisely in the space and its manoeuvrability makes it ideal for such a task. The tripod receives the necessary positional data and control signals directly from an animation software program, in which the 3D shape model parametrically generates the desired structure.

Just like a caterpillar, the 3D Cocooner spins delicate lightweight structures freely in space. With the help of a high-speed handling system, the spinneret is precisely controlled and glues a glass fibre into the desired bionic lattice shape with UV-curing resin. (Video courtesy of Festo AG & Co. KG)

From virtual model to finished object
Besides the design shape model, the entire handling system is also stored visually in the program. This allows the complete path planning to be calculated here live, visually simulated and transferred to the tripod’s actual travel paths without intermediate steps. This direct path from the design to the production tool is very unusual in the current production environment. It is, however, an important prerequisite for customised manufacturing in the future.

Please find further information about Festo’s Bionic Learning Network here.

Source: Festo AG & Co. KG

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