3D printers are usually self-contained designs, with linear movement systems that completely surround the build area. There are some exceptions, such as robot arms that can 3D-print around themselves. It’s also possible to make those mobile, so that they can print even larger objects. But, because of the square-cube law, those kind of objects can end up taking a very long time to print. That is why AMBOTS has developed autonomous robots that can work together to print huge objects quickly.
Imagine you hire a contractor to build a brick wall around your house. That contractor may, in turn, hire a single mason to do the job. But that will end up taking a very long time to complete. A smart contractor will instead hire a team of masons, and coordinate their work so that each individual is working on a section of the wall. That’s essentially what AMBOTS robots are doing with 3D printing, and that lets them print very large objects far more quickly than any individual “worker” could.
Each robot in the swarm is fairly simple, and just has an extruder and a hot end attached to a SCARA-style arm. The robots ride on omniwheels, which help them move smoothly around the print in the X and Y axes. That is interesting, but not groundbreaking. The real breakthrough here is in the coordination between multiple robots — the job of the contractor in our masonry metaphor. Each robot is assigned one section of the overall print job, and they’re able to all work simultaneously. That requires a special guidance system so the robots know where they are and where they should be printing. But in the AMBOTS videos, they appear to do that remarkably well.