SUNConferences, 17th Annual Conference of the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa

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Rapid prototyping of robotic vehicles using water jet cutters
Willis de Ronde

Last modified: 2016-10-03


Building a robotic platform from raw materials can take anything from a few weeks to a few years to complete depending on the complexity and size of the platform. We introduce a novel approach of using a water jet cutter for manufacturing a robot vehicle body within days.

Both light weight and strong materials like aluminium and different engineering plastics can be cut to create prototype chassis/ bodies or even the final product. These platforms are quite ruggedized and can be used in varying environments for different applications. The two platforms manufactured using this approach are used as a mine inspection robot (Shongololo) and the other as an all-terrain vehicle to be used in vineyards(Dassie).

“Shongololo’s” frame is made from engineering plastics and the chassis of “Dassie” was made from aluminium and cut using the water jet cutter. The advantage of using the water jet cutter is the speed at which the final product can be achieved and in addition little or no extra finishing is needed.  The chassis were made up of different sheets with internal shapes cut out to reduce the weight of the robot. Most mounting and screw holes can also be cut into the sheets.

This approach simplifies the manufacturing process for prototyping robotic platforms. Using the water jet cutter approach allows us to build medium size robotic platforms with varying complexity in a matter of days compared to weeks using traditional machining methods.


Robotics; Water Jet