Metal implements made by blacksmiths oftentimes have legendary strength because the working of the metal, like kneading of dough, makes its structure finer, more homogeneous. As the material is shaped, it develops directional strength, much like wood is stronger along the direction of its grain. However, no human blacksmith can deal with parts the size of aircraft landing gear or have the reproducibility and stamina to make the parts needed for our economy.
The idea of robotic blacksmithing is to extend the blacksmith’s art with new digital capabilities. Parts are shaped by repeatedly and incrementally forming a piece of metal which is precisely positioned into a press. This powered press or hammer system will interchange tools depending on the shape needed.
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By automating the process of shaping a part, but using the basic approach of a blacksmith, a machine can treat larger parts and be more efficient and reproducible than a human ever could.
This new approach has the potential to efficiently and consistently make the structural ‘bones’ inside aircraft, ships, submarines and locomotives. Or the concept could be scaled down to make small individualized medical implants.