German Scientists Use 3D Printer To Make Bionic Ants and Butterflies


German scientists have developed bionic ants and butterflies using a 3D printer.

In the future, it may be possible that we have bionic ants working in our factories. These newly-built bionic ants and butterflies look like their natural counterparts. These devices are very small, with a length of 5 inches, and weigh of just over 1 ounce.

Scientists employed an intelligent mechanical system and smallest possible power units in eMotionButterflies. They combined the ultralight construction of artificial insects with coordinated flying behavior in a collective. The reduced use of materials enables the true-to-nature flying behavior, according to Festo, the company which is working on these devices.

Latest infrared technology: precise localisation of the butterflies

Latest infrared technology: precise localisation of the butterflies

Unique flying behaviour: free moving like its natural role model

Unique flying behaviour: free moving like its natural role model


Minimum net weight: consistent lightweight construction due to low material use


Aerodynamic split wing: biggest possible wingspan with the smallest possible weight

Images : festo

“Ten cameras installed in the room record the butterflies using their infrared markers. The cameras transmit the position data to a central master computer, which coordinates the butterflies from outside. The intelligent networking system creates a guidance and monitoring system, which could be used in the networked factory of the future,” Festo said on its website.

The BionicANTs were developed with a 3D printer. A small video camera is installed on each ant, providing a sense of sight to the robotic insects. The devices can recharge their internal batteries by placing their antennae against a charging station.

In the BionicANTs, Festo has taken the delicate anatomy of the natural ant as a model, and the cooperative behavior of the creatures is transferred to the world of technology using complex control algorithms.

“Like their natural role models, the BionicANTs work together under clear rules. They communicate with each other and coordinate their actions and movements among each other. The artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together working as an overall networked system,” according to Festo.

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Drew is a regular contributor covering trending topics.