MicroFactory, the collaborative microbots of the factory of the future

These are very small-sized magnetic robots that can quickly make very strong metal structures. And that's not all

Automation in the factory doesn't always collide with safety, so much so that robots are often confined in protective boxes. The digital transformation, however, marks a turning point: robots become collaborative, that is, able to work alongside humans, and even tiny, as in the case of the MicroFactory.

These are microbots, colonies of robotic ants of very small size and able to build in tandem, as insects would do, objects. MicroFactories can make metal structures that are stronger than plastic ones made by 3D printing. The microbots move quickly on a kind of magnetic carpet, controlled by a program. The software is used to give commands to the "swarm" of robotic ants: the magnetic field, altered by the program, in fact, allows the robotic insects to carry out their activities.

How they work

The MicroFactory were designed by "SRI International". The working principle of the mini robots is similar to that of ants. Each mechanical insect adds a small piece until a metal structure is created. MicroFactorys can handle different materials, from glue to small metal rods. In the future, microbots may also be used to assemble parts of electronic objects, and not just make metalwork.

As mentioned, the basis of it all is the magnetic field. Microbots are very small magnets, which move thanks to the magnetic pulses generated by the band on which they rest. Thanks to their ability to shape and handle many materials, microbots are candidates to be the collaborative robots of the future, which will be able to overcome the weaknesses of 3D printing, which has the advantage of creating high-resolution objects, but which lack a strong internal structure.