Fabrication of complex and multi-articulated mechanisms is often seen as a time consuming and demanding process. The development of functional multi-articulated mechanisms that could be fabricated in a single step without the need for post-manufacturing assembly is therefore very attractive. Additive manufacturing (AM) has been pointed out as a feasible solution due to its numerous advantages and high versatility in comparison to other manufacturing techniques. Nevertheless, AM techniques also present different shortcomings that limit the complexity of the mechanism for single step fabrication. Here, we review the applications of AM techniques in fabrication of non-assembly multi-articulated mechanisms and highlight the involved challenges, thereby providing a perspective regarding the advantages and limitations of current AM techniques for production of complex mechanical devices. The paper starts off with basic joint elements in rigid-body and compliant configurations and proceeds with presenting an overview of multiple arrangements of joints and assemblies with embedded mechanical components. For every case of non-assembly fabrication, the limitations of the applicable AM processes are presented and further discussed. This work concludes with a discussion of the major shortcomings found in current non-assembly mechanisms fabricated by AM and recommending alternative techniques and future developments on AM.
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- 3D printing
- Additive manufacturing
- Mechanism design
- Non-assembly mechanisms