We're back at it again with small scale combat robots. The latest local Massachusetts event, MassDestruction, featured even more Markforged mayhem with a handful of unique 3D printed robots entered. Foiled, the antweight robot I'd designed for the last competition, ended up defending its title and taking home first place.
In this event the stakes were a bit higher: with four robots total (two antweights and two beetleweights) made up of Markforged parts, the competition was a showcase of the strength of our materials. Some of these robots, including Jamison Go's antweight “DDT”, were printed exclusively in our Onyx plastic, while others featured fiber reinforcement. In the field of combat robotics there are often three balancing acts at play: materials, manufacturing, and design individuality.
Materials play an important role in the sport because of the weight limit. A robot's chassis needs to be light, but strong enough to take a hit. A large fraction of the weight is usually focused on the weapon so that it is robust, sharp, and heavy hitting. Many smaller scale robots are designed and assembled in a few weeks, and need to be relatively simple to manufacture so that builders can produce them efficiently and cheaply. Thus, design for manufacturing and assembly plays a huge part. Lastly, many builders aim to pursue novel design concepts and make their robots unique and recognizable on the battlefield.
With Markforged parts, several bots in this competition reached a number of these goals. The lightweight strength of even just Onyx alone and the manufacturing complexity additive manufacturing allows builders created unique, lightweight designs that stood out in the arena. Foiled, which ended up taking first place, had a fiber reinforced chassis and weapon insert. However, runner up DDT's frame was printed only in Onyx: you can read Jamison's full analysis here. Onyx alone provides the strength necessary for this scale of robot combat. The Onyx One allows builders to affordably produce lightweight, battle-ready parts.
Some of the other 3D printed robots were really interesting because the additive manufacturing process enabled design complexity that would have otherwise been impossible. The blade on Foiled is one great example of this, and there were a few other interesting Markforged 3D printed robots, including Foiled Again and the Killinder, a robot with a series of counter-rotating drums. While these robots were not nearly as successful, they tested out radical designs that were previously untested. Many of the fights with Markforged robots can be watched here.
In general, Markforged has shown impressive performance in the combat robotics industry by providing a lightweight, high strength option for builders everywhere. We hope to see more interesting designs come out of it in the future! If you're interested, request a demo and we'll show you just how much our parts can handle.