I've been using 3d printers for prototyping for a long time, and I'll admit it's incredibly convenient to be able to throw together a CAD model, send it to the printer, and have it ready to assemble in a few hours. But that's just it, anything complicated with many moving parts often requires many prints and subsequent assembly which burns a huge amount of my prototyping time.

I was watching the first Iron Man movie the other day and noticed Jarvis say the line "commencing automated assembly," which got me thinking, for something as complex as, say, a motorcycle, what's the current state of the art as far as general purpose automated assembly?

Note that by "general purpose" I mean able to construct essentially arbitrary parts using a mixture of printed components of a given material (say sintered metal) and standard parts (servos, wires, gears, PCBs, etc.). Feel free to ignore the difficulty in entirely automated PCB reflow.


Do a search for the automation of car assembly : there was a joke about Fiat : designed on computer, built by robot, driven by monkeys. Robots exist that build engines, assemble bodies and also spray cars - and they use less paint.

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    $\begingroup$ This is good : youtube.com/watch?v=SOESSCXGhFo $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Jun 5 '17 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ And there's a bunch of industrial general purpose assembly robots on the market. The price is quite prohibitive though, and the more affordable "consumer level" robotic arms lack precision and strength to perform the complex task. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jun 5 '17 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ I want one of the loaders Ripley used ... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Jun 5 '17 at 16:00

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