January 24, 2013 AT 1:00 am

iRobot filed a patent for autonomous all-in-one 3D printing, milling, drilling and finishing robot #3dthursday

iRobotRoboticFabricator

iRobot, most famous for their Roomba cleaning robots, has just filed a patent for an all-in-one automated fabricator that includes a range of tools from 3D print, milling, and drilling heads — and other finishing/polishing processes, via 3ders.org.

Bedford based Roomba maker iRobot Corporation, founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists, has filed a US patent entitled “Robotic Fabricator”, a completely autonomous all-in-one product fabrication robot that handles manufacturing (including 3D printing) and all the post printing work from seed component to mature product.

In their application noted the company: In traditional 3D printing, if the product to be printed requires an overhang, or becomes larger on a subsequent layer, a support structure is used and it need to be removed after printing, requiring extra processing and human involvement in the manufacturing steps.

Additionally, connectors and fasteners are used to secure product components together, and seams are created when product components are fused together. Connectors, fasteners, seams, and similar interfaces are frequently a source of failure in the end product. Furthermore human intervention and labor are required for assembling a finished product.

iRobot’s Robotic Fabricator is going to change it: it automates the manufacture and assembly processes aiming to reduce the need for human labor, decrease manufacturing costs and improve product quality.

Read more.


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4 Comments

  1. Now if only it could etch PCBs!

  2. What? Wouldn’t “previous art work” apply? Or how about “its to obvious” to patent? Guess I just find it ridiculous to patent something as obvious as an automated fabricator not. :-) I’m certain a lot of makers here on the Internet could build such a thing quite easily.

  3. Yeah, it does seem odd to patent what is essentially just “automation to make an object in one go” and it might not stand up, but it is interesting maker business news that this is what they would apply for. I, too, hope that this doesn’t interfere with the dozens and dozens of low-cost and DIY desktop additive+subtractive machines that have been launched in the last few years!

  4. “I’m going to patent putting peanut butter AND jelly on a slice of bread. Whereas before, people only patented one, I patent the ability to do both!”

    Gah, another example of the ridiculousness of the patent system. This very well could be an innovation, but in order to cover their bases, they wind up filing a patent for something that seems obvious.

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