Tianjin University has developed a modular soft robot that can

  • On January 7, 2021, researchers at Tianjin University 3D printed a modular software robot that can crawl on pipes in industrial facilities, inspect them, and monitor them in real time. The robot is equipped with a series of soft bending mechanisms and a modular grip, allowing it to climb up and down strange and unusual structures with ease. Pipeline breaks frequently cause production delays, and many companies still perform manual inspections, so the robot may represent a more efficient and cost-effective alternative.

    The art of pipeline climbing in the dark

    In many factories, the pipeline is a critical component of overall industrial efficiency as well as final product efficiency. Even the smallest damage cnc drilling will have a significant impact on production. As a result, it is necessary for some large corporations to conduct regular checks to ensure that the pipeline is not leaking continuously.

    At the moment, industrial enterprises frequently rely on their employees to manually monitor pipelines, but this method is both time-consuming and potentially dangerous, especially when there are dangerous chemicals present in the pipeline. As a result, developing robots that can perform potentially hazardous tasks has emerged as a significant research area.

    Although previous research has resulted in a number of robot solutions, they are typically either inside or outside pipe climbing devices rather than both. More importantly, the former requires the closure of the transportation network in order to function, whereas the latter is unable to be maintained from the outside.

    However, with the advancement of soft robot technology, it has become easier to manufacture complex equipment. The team at Tianjin University has used 3d printing technology to create an optimized pipeline inspection device that is more flexible than ever before.

    Using a modular design, scientists can customize their 3D printing robots to suit their needs. In order to maximize the flexibility of the robot, scientists created a flexible bending mechanism that can withstand significant deformation. Create devices using CAD software, which will allow teams to add modules and adjust the grip diameter as needed.

    The robot layout consists of a middle section with retainers at both ends and three intake pipes, each of which can control and apply pressure as needed. Robots can climb by alternately pressurizing and decompressing the grip of the device, even when they are not under their direct control.

    During the test, the robot produced 85n • mm of torque while climbing a pipe with a diameter ranging from 16-38mm. The robot can also use 45° and 90° angles. Scaling the acrylic network at an angle may be an excellent option for checking sloped pipes, which can be difficult to navigate. Robots can climb both 5 axis machining services inside and outside buildings, as well as rotate in either longitudinal or transverse directions. Scientists hope to integrate sensors into their devices in the future, enabling them to function as a standalone pipeline maintenance solution.