Just a few years ago, 3D printers were a total innovation and technological breakthrough. Now, scientists learned to print complicated items and 3D printers became accessible to regular people. But technology development doesn’t stand still and soon we may be able to have an even more effective replacement – scientists from SRI International invented miniature robots or micro-bots which have the same functions as 3D printers along with several other interesting features.
The robots are called MicroFactory and they look like an ant colony. In reality, the microbots are just tiny magnets placed on a surface which generates a magnetic field. The whole system is controlled by special software – it can turn the magnetic field on and off making the robots move.
Just like any worker on a factory, each robot has various specific duties: some create a detail, some put them together and some apply glue to make a jointed construction. Once robots are finished with their task, they go into a standby mode.
The biggest advantage of MicroFactory is that unlike 3D printers, microbots can use different materials for constructing. Plus, MicroFactory can be a helpful addition to 3D printers in order to expand the possibilities of modern industry. For example, the body of some device can be printed while microbots build the frame.