When you hear the phrase “3-D-printing robot,” you probably imagine a boring box with some stepper motors inside. “Whatever,” you’re thinking, “People use the word ‘robot’ for anything these days.” And normally I’d agree.
But Galatéa isn’t just another half-baked bot. Galatéa is a proper robot, like the ones that build cars, and it uses a wand to deposit molten plastic, one layer at a time, like it was squirting out frosting messages on your birthday cake. The robot prints furniture, and the team actually takes the robot with them as they travel around, creating customized objects, right there on the spot.
The result of extruding through Galatéa’s oversized nozzle is that the pieces look a lot like coil pots, those clay bowls and vases made by rolling clay into a snake and then spiralling it into the target shape.
Galatéa is the star of a French project called Drawn, which is currently running on Kickstarter. Almost as interesting as the 3-D printing is the Kickstarter campaign itself. Backers choose an object as a reward for their pledge, and when the campaign is successful (it’s already met its funding goal), the team will travel around with Galatéa and come to you to print the rewards. I’m not sure how schlepping a repurposed car-building robot across the Atlantic is a saving compared to FedExing the finished plastic objects, but it’s certainly way way cooler.
One day, perhaps every small town will have a depot where you can send designs for any object and have it printed for you. We probably don’t need a 3-D printer in every home, any more than we need a paper printer in every home. The local 3-D printshop could be like a your local printing bureau is right now, only not just for binding PowerPoint presentations and printing boarding passes.