This is a really great story. A team of researchers at Cornell Univesity created a robotic hovering insect with real flapping wings with a little help from 3D printing technology.
To achieve the precise wing geometry combined with the lightweight and strength needed for aerodynamic flight, the scientists used an Objet Eden 3D printer. Why Objet 3D printing? Because it enabled the designers to produce the wings within minutes – to the exact dimensions required – without the need for trial and error.
The Objet Eden line of 3D printers produces high-resolution prototypes which are created by jetting layers of UV-cured photopolymer material one on top of the other until a final product is revealed from the printer. With the Objet Eden line, each material layer is just 16µ, (or 0.0006 inches), enabling designers to accurately simulate thin walls (down to 0.6mm) and delicate structures essential to complex designs such as the robotic insect in the video.