The future of 3D printing will undoubtedly play a major role in the development of robotic devices. The custom aspects that the technology provides make it a perfect fit for creating one-off robots that do exactly what a person needs. While the relationship between these two technologies has not really taken off quite yet, one freelance hardware and software developer, named Rick Pannen, has gotten off to a head start.
Pannen, who specializes in prototyping electronics and and working with embedded system design, currently lives in Hamburg, Germany where he is a member of the local “makerspace.” In the past, he has designed several really unique creations such as an iPhone geiger counter, nixie tube reverse geocache box, and a robotic camera dolly that can record and replay movements. However, it wasn’t until he really became enamored with 3D printing that his full potential was unleashed. In his latest project, Pannen has created a 3D printed lamp unlike anything you have probably seen before.
“Two years ago I was experimenting with mechanical constructions with laser cut acrylic, and I made the Robolamp,” Pannen tells 3DPrint.com. “That lamp had very simple electronics and could only ‘see’ movements.”
Recently though, Pannen discovered the “Pixy” Motion Tracking Board, which is a camera module that can track colors.
“It already has outputs for pan/tilt servos, so it seemed to be perfect for creating a better Robolamp,” Pannen tells us. “I designed the lamp in Autodesk Inventor which has some nice features for plastic designs.”
Pannen, using an SLA-based 3D printer that one of his clients owns, printed the parts for his lamp, but ran into several mechanical issues. He then decided to try and have the parts 3D printed using Shapeways, so he created a single STL file and sent it off to the 3D printing service to be fabricated using their “Polished White Strong and Flexible” material. It cost Pannen about €125 to have all the pieces printed and then shipped to him in Germany.
“I got the parts exactly 12 days later and was really impressed with the quality,” Pannen explains. “There are some visible layers but there is no warping and all of the measurements are perfect. I even cut a screw thread on one part and put a metal nut on it . The servos and the camera board fit without a problem.”
For the light on the lamp, Pannen designed a PCB using Altium Designer, and then had a company called Dirty PCBs create it for him, for just $30. He then mounted it in front of the Pixy board, which uses the standard Pixy firmware with custom servo settings to operate.
As you can see in the video below, the lamp has the ability to track and follow moving objects, shining light on the object in the process. Pannen tells us that he plans to make the 3D printed parts available for others to purchase on Shapeways, once he has a chance to make a few minor modifications to the designs.
What do you think about this incredibly unique lamp? Discuss in the RoboLamp forum thread on 3DPB.com.