MUPPette 3D Printer Project – The Flying 3D Printer With no Build Size Limit

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Just two weeks ago, we reported on The World’s First Flying 3D Printer, which was created by a man in London named Mirko Kovac. The purpose of this device was to print a glue-like substance so that a drone could mupp-1attach itself to an object and remove it from a location, not to actually print 3D objects.  Today, we have been informed that there is yet another flying 3D printer project in the works.  This one is actually being produced with the intentions of constructing objects.

The MUPPette project, is underway, in hopes of creating a 3D printer that is capable of producing objects of limitless scale. “MUPP” in the name MUPPette, stands for “Mobile Unmanned Printing Platform”. It is a project that is being undertaken by Gensler, a global design firm that partners with clients to make cities more livable and work smarter.  During the last year alone Gensler has worked with over 2400 clients in 112 countries, including 38 Fortune 500 companies, as well as 8 of the top 10 global technology firms.

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Gensler has been working on this project, relatively under the radar for about 13 months already, and has made significant progress.  However, they are nowhere near being finished, stating that this will be a project which spans multiple years, and seeks to create the ultimate fully functional unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of 3D printing.

The MUPPette machine is made up of three main sections. The first is the robotic platform, which is an unmanned aerial vehicle, or hexacopter. The bottom of the UAV is attached to a camera gimbal. The gimbal is used to stabalize the 3D printer extruder at its base. This allows for the extruder to stay very stable, even if a gust of wind or an air current were to affect the movement of the machine. The extruder melts a PLA plastic, just like that of the 3D printer you may have in your home.

The technology still is not perfected, but tremendous progress has been made in just over a year, despite the fact that the team behind the MUPPette consists of only three individuals.  Jared Shier, Mindy King, and Tam Tran are the three designers based at the Gensler’s Los Angeles office, who make up the MUPPette research team.

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“The goal of our initial research was to provide proof of concept, that printing without limitations is possible,” Tam Tran, told 3DPrint.com in an interview.  “By the end of year one MUPPette successfully extruded a thin line of PLA plastic filament in-flight. After numerous test flights with MUPPette, we became increasingly aware of many unforeseen challenges presented by printing in this manner. Moving forward, we plan to address these obstacles by exploring ways to improve our robotic platform and build material(s). We have the open source community to thank for our current progress and welcome others to collaborate with us in the development of this technology.”

The team hopes that the research they are involved in will ultimately lead to a fully automated mobile platform for 3D printing, capable of producing objects of limitless scale. They were frustrated with the fact that 3D printers using traditional technology are limited by the size of their X, Y, and Z axes. They felt that the constraints which exist today can be circumvented, with the help of new technologies, such as MUPPette.  It will certainly be interesting to follow along as the team makes progress on what could be a game changer in the world of 3D printing. Discuss this remarkable project at the MUPPette forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below showing off the progress that has been made thus far.

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