3D printers on drones? Now that really is sci-fi

By | September 26, 2022
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I try to keep up with tech news – it’s mostly pretty run-of-the-mill of stuff, but just occasionally I come across something that makes me think… “wow!”. And this weekend was one of those moments.

You’ve probably heard of 3D printing. It’s been around for a good while now. Basically, a 3D printer takes a picture or set of instructions and uses it to build up a solid object, layer-by-layer. Most 3D printers are pretty small-scale things, used to make precision parts for industry or medicine.

I’m guessing you’ve also heard of drones. They seem to be popping up everywhere at the moment – little flying robots that you can control like a toy plane.

Well – some very clever bods at the University of Bath have put the two together. Inspired by the way bees and wasps build their nests, they’ve managed to mount a 3D printer onto a drone. It can print accurately mid-flight – which is frankly astonishing! I didn’t quite believe it until I saw it in action. If you want to see for yourself, there’s a great video on YouTube, here.

It’s still early days, but the researchers are hoping that groups of these drones could be used to build emergency shelters in hard-to-reach areas. They could also make it much easier to repair tall buildings without the need for lots of scaffolding and safety equipment. You could fly one of these little fellas up and job’s a good’n!

Technology really is amazing sometimes.

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