3D Printing Stainless Steel with Giant Robot Arms

This is a teach pendant, and traditionally, it’s how you teach a robot arm to do something. It’s awkward. Two of the problems with programming robots
the traditional way are that you need to tell it exactly what
you want it to do, point to point. The other is that the robot assumes that nothing
changes. You just manually drive the tip of the robot to where you know you need it to go and then hit ‘record,’ and remember that
point, then you drive it over to the other place
and hit ‘record,’ and remember that point, and then, when you
play, it goes from one point to the next. And it can do that over, and over, and over again. In the event that there is some error or something
moves, the robot has no way of knowing that. The robot will still go exactly where you
told it to go the first time, and that can result in a crash, or breaking
something, or injuring a person. It’s just like any
computer. It will do exactly what you ask it to do, even if that’s not what you meant! In the early days of computers, writing code generally meant using what’s
called ‘assembly language’. You would have to literally tell the processor to move things from one memory address to
another, or to tweak some values, or to change specific pixels on the screen. Like giving instructions to this arm, you would be telling the chip every single
thing that it had to do. As time moved on, programmers got higher level
languages. Write some words and some brackets, the system works out the boring details for
you. If you’ve ever worked with a spreadsheet,
then that counts. Writing a formula in Excel, that’s enough. In the end, sure, it all gets converted to
assembly language. For most programmers, they never even have
to think about it. The team here at Autodesk’s Pier 9 in San
Francisco are working on more or less the same thing, just for making physical things. Basically, the biggest robot that we have
in the lab, which we call ‘Ash,’ is essentially a
big, robotic 3D printer that’s printing in stainless
steel. We have a MIG welder that is depositing stainless
steel onto a metal plate. By activating the MIG welder while moving
the robot, we’re building a weld bead, and then we’re building beads on top of
each other. You would typically use welding to stitch
two pieces of metal together. What we’re doing is using the same technology, but stacking the metal on top in order to produce a separate piece of finished
material. Now, ultimately, the result is the same. The motors in the robot arm are told, “move
this way.” It’s just that human’s original instructions
are a bit more abstract, and they’re filtered through another couple
of layers. Using a teach pendant would be pretty impractical
for these complex curves. Normal 3D printers do basically 2½D. They go to an X and a Y, and then up and down. This robot can point in various directions. The robot needs to know not only where it
is, but how it should point when it gets there. We give it a piece of geometry, and the software figures out the instructions
set for the robot that will result in a print, that is what
we want. One of the things we’re developing is a
closed loop feedback system, where the robot is actually aware of what
it’s doing. Before it completely fails a print, it’s keeping track of the quality of the
print that it’s doing. It will actually correct, reprogram itself
in real time, in order to avoid an actual failure. What we’re working on is a vision system, where between vision and a couple of other
sensors, we can monitor and supervise the status of
the prints. If the welder runs out of wire, or if something
else happens, the robot would traditionally have no way
of knowing. Now, the robot can know that. Not all the robot’s movements are being
directly controlled by a person. If it goes wrong, it’s a bit different than just having an error message pop up. This arm here weighs two tonnes, and when it wants to, it moves fast. The only reason I’m allowed this close is
because I’m literally holding the emergency stop button
in my hand, just in case. Our robot currently has no way of sensing
us. What currently happens is when a person that shouldn’t be near a robot
gets close to the robot, you shut everything down. It would be great, and we’re interested
in a future where the robot can know that person is there, with vision or some other kinds of sensing, and then actively avoid that person, and continue doing what it’s doing. Self driving cars, hospital heart monitors, basically everything electronic: ultimately, the code in it is just 1s and 0s. The more levels of abstraction between the
programmer and the bare metal, the easier it is to write code, but when something goes wrong, fixing it might be out of your hands. Thank you very much to all the team at Autodesk, and to their applied research lab, here at Pier 9 in San Francisco. Go and check out their YouTube channel, or pull down the description for some links
to see the amazing projects they’re working on.

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100 thoughts on “3D Printing Stainless Steel with Giant Robot Arms

  1. As with my last video: this happened because Autodesk paid for my travel to San Francisco! But as with everywhere I've worked with recently, they had no control over content, script or final cut: they just asked if I wanted to film stuff at their Pier. (And given what's in the Pier, it didn't take me long to say yes…)

  2. How long before these robots can build another copy of themselves from scratch and Elon Musk sends them into space and we can turn the entire solar system into a factory?

  3. I'm suddenly reminded of Robot Wars. Anyone remember that old show, where people would battle homemade robots? Watching that was a highlight of my childhood.

  4. Someone has been a bit cheeky with the ABB logo on that robot 😀
    At least both are Swedish. (ABB is part Swiss also though)

  5. She said the 3D printers are 2 and 1/2 dimensions? Then she says "they move to an X and Y, and then up and down" (that is the Z axis right?) so it's 3D?? 2:37

  6. So, as these machines get "smarter" via AI, how much more robust will the security efforts need to improve, preventing hacking the networks controlling these machines?

    I'm not so sure, there ever can be a convincing case presenting an autonomous world, unless a completely foolproof system can be proved. I have not seen or heard of that being the case, yet.
    I fully admit I'm cyclical by nature, but all these stories of the positive aspects of this new world of AI, with little, or no focus on the darker side of this world, only confirms
     my suspicious nature, not ease it.

    As we have seen with the explosion of communication though "social networks", rather than real world human interaction…we are talking AT each other, in our own "echo chambers", NOT WITH each other though human interaction. Dependency on technology is crossing into a dangerous area.

    This does not bode well for the future.

  7. > Assembly Language
    … Scott…
    You call yourself a programmer? Well, that must have been a brain fart of magniture 9000+.

    It almost made my brain melt with stupidity that you would call machine code that. If I would have called machine code "Assembly Language" at Uni I could have been thrown out a window, head first.

    I have lost my respect for you thanks to those two words. It is deplorable to use the wrong terminology in an informational video.

    Assembly Language is — to some extent — high level. It is an abstraction using natural language to represent machine code. Assembly Language is compiled/assembled in an Assembler into machine code. This is basic stuffs that every programmer should know.

  8. Actually there is a system that can sense and avoid humans interacting with robots. Some colleagues of mine were working on it when I was with the Fraunhofer Institute.

  9. I would much rather hear the background noise under the speech than hear it jumping up and down  from the noise reduction plugin. Humans evolved to pick out sounds of interest from background noise but this effect makes smoke come from my ears. The plugin doesn't do the speech any good either. Cool vid though, thanks!

  10. Every programmer should know asm, though. You ought to at least have a basic understanding of how a chip works at the lowest level, and how to do that sort of programming. Besides, it's fun.

  11. Thanks for the interesting video Tom, but it contains 2 technical errors: 1. It all gets converted to machine code, not assembly language and 2. the code in everything digital is ultimately 1s and 0s, not everything electronic.

  12. tom loves your videos and your projects always enjoy them and learn a lot 😀
    just curious what are your thoughts of the Investigatory Powers Act??
    do you think that we will be safe ?

  13. So…wielding robot acts pretty much like every wielder I have met. Stand in the way and they will act like they don't notice you, shove you to the side, and carry on their job…

  14. actually, there is a European project codenamed project Claxon where a Baxter robot is given means of sensing humans and objects using depth sensing cameras and can even react to gestures. https://www.iminds.be/en/projects/claxon

  15. As soon as they explained to me how FDM works, I instantly asked "why not swap out the plastic extruder for a MIG welder?"

  16. There are robotics that sense people and do so so effectively that they are considered OSHA safe to the point that traditional safety spaces are no longer needed. It's pretty cool.

  17. Use an ABB irb6600 to do this is like asking to a body builder to do sewing.
    There is a lot of other light weight arc-welding models to do that.

  18. No mention of material properties after a print is complete? Or even what types of loads these can take, or what this can be used for right now. I can't imagine that this style upholds the tensile and compression strength, like rolling does do to tempering processes. I imagine the shear capabilities of the metal drop dramatically since it is no longer homogeneously formed.

  19. This seems pointless to me. ha ha! (weld seams) anyway I can tell you for fact that the finish on anything this prints would be ruff and layered and would need machining if printing a precision part not to mention the time layering the welds and cost of equipment. Also it would be quite brittle and would need to be heat treated for most applications. These robots [email protected]@k up all the time and need to be programmed and supervised almost continuously. I cant see this ever being used other than for art sculptures and you have to question is it really art when it's been produced by a robot? Boom!

  20. Can an expert tell me about that 3d printed objects structural strength vs an object created using a mold. Having thousands of weld points can't be okay when you question materials strength can it?

  21. Convert shapes into machine code, notice when it's out of materials – regular 3d printers do that. The one new thing in this video was just that it can evaluate the quality of the actual physical print based on the actual results.

    And why don't they install proximity sensors if they want it to notice people getting near the robot?

  22. I love fun sites like Unbox Therapy – that have millions of subscribers. But I love Tom Scott's video's WAY more.
    Not because of the host's – they are charming in their own way. But the subject matter Mr. Scott covers is FAR more varied and fascinating to me then what Unbox Therapy (and other 'fun' sites) covers. So why does Tom Scott have only 700K subscribers and Unbox Therapy (and other very popular but essentially light/fun sites) has many millions of subscribers?
    I don't get it.
    I have been watching tons of Tom Scott's videos over the past few days…and I have learned a ton and been entertained as well.

  23. how did the filming go there? I wondered if the camera was/could be damaged by the bright light of the welding arch. A while ago I did some manual arch welding in school and made a video. I was afraid to damage my camera so I held it behind the welding mask 😀 once I accidentally looked into the arch unprotected while my welding mate was working, my eyes burning in the night after. So that's why I didn't want to risk my camera unnecessarily.

  24. couldn't help but notice the robot arms were named Ash and Bishop, the same as the androids from alien and aliens respectively.

  25. i know that this is sort of a step to continue onto other technologies but this specific technology has absolutely no application that is better, faster, cheaper or more efficient than other methods.

  26. "3d printers are just 2.5D machine"
    wait wat ? half an axis ? like half a vector ?
    2.5D refer to a certain type of milling. it has nothing to do with 3d printer. In fact almost all the 2.5D cnc machines are 3 axis machine

  27. Is this the same Autodesk that makes apps for smart devices? If so I love working with the Pixlr app! And thank you for making it free!

  28. 3D printing stainless steel is difficult, because stainless steel is steel covers in a thin layer of chromium, not a alloy.

  29. Not sure why would you need more than a traditional way of printing, koenigsegg has no problems printing their turbos from titanium the traditional way.

  30. I'd be very interested to see what the print quality is like for that and I'd like to know what the spanning abilities are if any.

  31. When he said ‘assembly language’ I went “ohhh nooo” aloud, since I tried learning some assembly language a while back, and gave up when I realized that you store values and call the kernel or some crap like that to do functions. Hello world suddenly got a lot more complicated.

  32. Oh, cool. I saw some RepRap people doing this (minus the 6DOF and closed-loop stuff) a few years ago with an upside-down Delta bot moving a plate under a stationary welder. Josh Pearce group maybe? They published scientific papers, whoever it was. They got reasonable results, I was surprised! The parts they were making were crude, but they looked usable with minimal hand-finishing.

  33. As a professional welder I find this absolutely fascinating! I've seen a few types of robot welders but nothing like this.

  34. boys and girls, sorry for spoiling it all before it even starts, but have you ever wondered what is the price of that 3D printed sculpture. a quick guess? more than you can imagine is the answer. just the price of stainless steel is discouraging, let alone the energy and maintenance. 3D is not a universal technology – it is a complementing tool, not a replacement for machining. also, welding is generally an inaccurate process. don't fool yourselves…

  35. Woah! Interesting.. does this mean that it's not susceptible to delamination? Ei. Are the layers welded together, leaving us with strength of the material, not just in the layer direction but also in the height direction?

  36. I would love to work on this project as I am a programmer and a weldor
    And working for Autodesk would be my top achievement since I love all their software.

  37. Couldn't you have a thermal camera system that had a very basic Ai that was connected to all of the robots and paused their function when a human was in the danger zone?

  38. 3:51 I feel like that placard should say "Beware of Attack Robot." But at least I'm glad to see they did include "Class II and IV-a droids prohibited" on that placard, I don't know what those are but googling them came up with a bunch of Wookieepedia entries so I assume it's something Star Wars, thus they did at least get to slip in a geek reference of some sort, even if subtle.

  39. That's cool to see here. From the intitute I work at a start up was initiated from, that works on learning robots to move the way wanted by letting a human wearing a special jacket and glove do the movement. The trained robot then copies it.

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