Thingiverse_LogoRobotics has become one of the most common forms of advanced technology in the world, and just about everyone in the developed world uses them daily. Many of us probably don’t even realize how often we interact with robots. Not only are 3D printers themselves robots, but modern cars that have auto park functions could easily be considered robots, as could the eventual self-driving cars that Google keeps promising us. Heck, even the automatic drink machine at McDonald’s is a robot. Much like 3D printing technology, the next generation of engineers is going to need to have a familiarity with the concept of robotics if they are going to help create the future. So I decided to find some of the coolest 3D printable robotics projects that Thingiverse had to offer.

Some of these projects may be more advanced than others, so make sure that you pick the project suited for your needs, and be aware that all of them will require some non-3D printed components. A lot of these project include detailed parts lists or at least links to places where you can purchase kits of the non-3D printable robotics. The cost of each project will vary, but to keep it cheap I stuck to projects that have free STL files available for download. There are plenty of places to buy robotics parts these days, but you can always start with Adafruit, which offers tons of parts and components, many of them for beginners.


SMALL 3D PRINTED ROBOTIC GRABBING ARM

3dp_ten3dpthings_MeArmMeArm V0.4 – Pocket Size Robot Arm by phenoptix

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

A robot arm is a natural place to start your career in robot design, and the MeArm is an adorable little baby-sized starter project. It was designed to be small, easy to build and super light weight. But don’t let its diminutive size fool you: this is a fully functional gripper arm, and it can be used for fun, to annoy your pets or actually be put to use grabbing and placing small objects. If you don’t want to 3D print the parts, you can buy a full kit here for $50.


SINGLE SERVO WALKING ROBOT

3dp_ten3dpthings_1servowalker1 Servo Walker by FavioR

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

The 1 Servo Walker is an extremely simple walking robot design that uses only a single servo to get your little insect-looking robot moving. This is literally the place to start if you’ve never built a robot before, and if you’re feeling saucy it is an easy 3D printing project to customize and alter to suit your needs. Here is an updated body design that reduces the amount of material that you need to use and the time it takes to print.


A TANK BOT CHASSIS

3dp_ten3dpthings_drogerty_1Drogerdy – Raspberry Pi Controlled Tank Bot by timmiclark

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

Drogerdy was designed by an educator to offer his students the option of mounting their robotics projects onto a tank body. However the tank can work on its own as well, the parts are easily customizable, and the instructions include options to find inexpensive motors to drive it. You could even mount something that isn’t a robot on top of it. This is an extremely adaptable project that is easy to build and has tons of potential uses. Plus, tank bot, how can you go wrong with that?

Here is some video of the little guy in action:

3dp_ten3dpthings_drogerty_2There is also a smaller and more streamlined version called the Drogerty 2.0 here.


TWO-WHEELED SELF-BALANCING FIGHTING ROBOT

3dp_ten3dpthings_b-robotevoB-Robot EVO (the evolved self balancing robot) by jjrobots

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

The B-Robot EVO is an Arduino controlled robot made from all open sourced software and hardware. It may be a slightly more complicated robotics project than some of the others on this list, but EVO is super cute and can be modified to give him all sorts of different looks and faces. Plus, it has mostly 3D printed parts, so only a few components will need to be purchased, and there is even an option to add battle arms to it so you can fight it against other robots. You can find some detailed assembly instructions or buy kits for the hardware here.


TREADED ROBOT WITH GRIPPER ARM

3dp_ten3dpthings_azibotAZIBOt by AZIBOt

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

The AZIBOt was created as an Arduino powered, low-cost robotics project to help develop STEM education in Africa. All of the non-electronic robot parts were designed to be easily 3D printed and only a few of them require any sort of support materials. Everything is open sourced and all of the 3D printable files are on Thingiverse, you can find detailed build instructions here. You can either buy kits for the mechanical and electronic parts from AZIBOt or they can be easily sourced on your own.


WALKING CRAB ROBOT WITH GRIPPING CLAWS

3dp_ten3dpthings_printbotcrabPrintBot Crab by bqLabs

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

The PrintBot Crab is a great, walking hexapod educational robot that can grab on to all kinds of objects with its two claw-shaped pincers. The robot was designed to be modular so it is easy to assemble, and there are even options to include things like extra servos, LEDs, sensors, external control buttons and buzzers. You can get some detailed assembly instructions (sadly only available in Spanish, but they are easy to figure out based on the illustrations and Google translate) on BQLabs.

You can see the PrintBot Crab, who I’ve named Zoidberg, in action here:


WALKING GREYHOUND ROBOT

3dp_ten3dpthings_greyhoudThe Greyhound by JPH

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

So let’s say that you’re a dog lover, but you don’t actually have time to take care of a dog. What exactly are your options? Stalking your friends with dogs? That might not work out so well for you, so you could always build yourself a robot dog. This cute walking greyhound robot may not be as cuddly as the living thing, but at least it won’t try to eat your dinner, chase cats or make a mess on your floor if you’re late coming home to give it a walk.


ROLLING R2D2 ROBOT

3dp_ten3dpthings_r2d2R2D2 Robotic by j0s3b4

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

Having a working R2D2 is probably every Star Wars nerd’s dream come true, but unfortunately an officially licensed droid like R2 would probably set you back a pretty penny. But if you use some of the same hardware from the PrintBot Crab, you can 3D print your own R2D2 body and create your own rolling sidekick. Unfortunately this version doesn’t come with sassy beeps and boops.


WALKING HUMANOID ROBOT

3dp_ten3dpthings_miniplanMiniPlan v5.0 by ShinWeiChiou

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

So let’s say that you’ve built yourself a robot crab, and a robot dog, and even a robot tank, what exactly is next? Well, clearly it’s time to take on humanity. The MiniPlan robot is a small walking, humanoid robot that can be built from 3D printed parts and extremely easy to source robotic components. This may not quite be the Cylon that you were hoping for, but everyone needs to start somewhere. The files on Thingiverse include a full parts list, and here is a YouTube video with assembly instructions.


ROSCO THE TELEPRESENCE ROBOT

3dp_ten3dpthings_roscoRObotSCOut beta 1.0 by Arxterra

Found on: Thingiverse
Cost: Free

ROSCO is a beginner (not starter) hobbyist friendly, open sourced Telepresence robot kit. The designers created special robotics software and a website portal that lets you control ROSCO through the internet, so provided there is a cell phone signal, you can easily control him by mounting an Android smartphone with a forward facing camera on him. You can get everything that you need to be part of a new telerobotic community here, and the project was designed to cost less than $200 (not including the smartphone) in parts and electronics. Once you download the app, you can view other robots, chat with other builders and get ideas to improve your own ROSCO.


Have fun building the first of what I hope is many robots, and please, do NOT accidentally invent Skynet, or any sort of murderous death robot. At least not until the next Star Wars movie is released.

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