If you like watching robots destroy each other and 3D printing, you’ll love this! BattleBots, the nearly decade-old robot-fighting series, is bringing additive manufacturing into the ring with the help of 3D printing company Markforged. The company, which specializes in metal and carbon fiber 3D printing, was hosted by BattleBots during filming for the 2019 World Championship and assisted in the production of over 160 robot parts.
Since it premiered in 2000, BattleBots has become something of a phenomenon. The televised series is now covered in over 150 countries, bringing entertainment to all who enjoy robots, competition and, well, destruction. The show is about more than just robots going at it in the battle ring, however, as much of the most fascinating work comes before the battles begin, when teams are designing and building the remote-controlled machines.
In recent years, 3D printing has been used to help teams gain a competitive edge, adding more functionalities to the BattleBots while staying within the strict weight limitations. Last year, for instance, Team SawBlaze, a Boston-based team made up of MIT engineering students and graduates, used Desktop Metal‘s 3D printing technology to produce a part for its flame-throwing, saw wielding robot.
This year, Markforged has taken on quite the role, becoming the only 3D printer company hosted by BattleBots throughout the two-week filming process. In these two weeks, the company assisted in the production of more than 160 3D printer parts for 29 teams working on site. Markforged, which supplied four 3D printers, helped the contestants to repaid damaged robots, improve performance and up the design in real time.
“Teams with broken bots were saved and able to fight again because of Markforged and their fantastic 3D printers,” said Greg Munson, Founder and Executive Producer of BattleBots Inc. “In addition, Markforged created custom shock mounts for many robot motors. This decreased the fail rate of motors that were poorly mounted, and increased the reliability and the excitement level for the 2019 fights! We can’t thank them enough.”
Markforged’s carbon fiber 3D printing technology also enabled the BattleBots teams to produce heavy duty custom parts for their robots which have the strength of aluminum with only about half the weight.
In the BattleBots 2019 World Championship premiere on June 7th (on the Discovery Channel), three teams—all of which utilized Markforged’s 3D printing for various applications—will be competing.
Team Valkyrie used the 3D printing tech to produce 55 parts for its undercutter robot, which is built to designed and damage the undercarriage of robots. As Leanne Cushing, Captain of the Valkyrie team, said: “We produced more than 200 Markforged 3D printed parts for Valkyrie in preparation for this season. With a two-month build time and Markforged as a resource, we were able to bring our improved 2019 design to life effortlessly without the hours and expense of a normal machine shop.”
HyperShock, a vertical disk spinner robot, integrates over 30 3D printed parts. Will Bales, HyperShock captain, elaborated: “Onyx parts provided us with cost savings, weight savings, and design flexibility you just can’t get with any other manufacturing process—all while maintaining the performance we need in the BattleBox. When we found weak points in our design during the competition, we printed improved parts onsite. Making your robot better on the fly is a major competitive advantage that can only be achieved with Markforged machines.”
Finally, Team Quantum, which created a crusher robot that can chomp on competing robots with 35,000 pounds of force, used Markforged 3D printers to print 21 parts. James Cooper, captain of the Quantum team, said: “Creating Quantum was a very ambitious project. To make it happen it was imperative to design super lightweight parts while maintaining high strength in the critical areas. The Markforged Mark Two 3D printer helped make Quantum possible by replacing machined aluminum parts for continuous fiber printed parts. The reliability of the end prints also gave us peace of mind when working to impossible time restrictions.”
The 2019 BattleBots series airs tomorrow on the Discovery Channel and on June 12th on the Science Channel.