Functional 3D Printed Robot by DECOS

Jurjen Brouwer, Leapfrog 3D printing project, The Hague University of Applied Sciences

The Internship

Jurjen Brouwer completed his studies Mechatronics with outstanding success at the “The Hague University of Applied Sciences”. The internship at Decos was part of his final year. He completed two assignments at the robotics division of Decos. His first assignment was creating and implementing a no-go road map so a robot knows not to go in a specific direction. He completed this in only one day. The second assignment was one that kept him busy until the end, building The Butler of the Future with the help of the Leapfrog XceL 3D printer.

Dream Empower Create Open Share: DECOS

Once started as “DE COmputerShop” 20 years ago, now known as Decos, is built on a dream that became their mission: bringing the future to the present by way of innovating. Decos offers a range of products to contribute to a connected and also sustainable world. For example: Decos developed an app that helped them to work fully digital and was one of the first companies to be working completely paperless. It’s also one of the first companies to have a fully electric carpark. All of their products: JOIN, Cartracker, Minute, Fixi and Flo are invented to work more efficient and agile in an innovative and sustainable manner. Another division of Decos is Welbo, the robotic side of the company.

Pepper & Co

At Decos you will meet Pepper, a robot who will personally welcome you when you visit the office. In her very young life she is already a superstar. She regularly gets VIP invitations to events and is a celebrity at the district of Leidschendam where she is assisting the visitors of city hall. Pepper is what they call a Welcome Robot. Other user cases for Decos’ robots are routing guests and transportation. Jurjen had the task to develop the latter.

The Assignment

Leapfrog, XceL 3D printer, 3D printing a robot, robot design, Decos

Jurjen’s assignment was to build a transportation robot, from scratch. The soft- and hardware were both to be developed. Jurjen told us that most of the work was tuning of the navigation of The Butler of the Future. The robot’s task is to hover around the office, going to each desk to collect empty coffee cups and deliver them to the kitchen. For when the tray was full Jurjen made a blue button which directed The Butler straight to the kitchen. As there was no note for the blue button, The Butler was very often found in the kitchen with only a few cups collected. Human curiosity.

Taking shape

Only by the end of April the Butler started moving and by that time 3 months had already passed. Initially the Butler’s body was made out of cardboard boxes but luckily improvement was on its way. The Butler was getting a 3D camera and also a body. Jurjen worked with a company in Portugal on the design of the body. When they had reached a satisfying, final version they were ready to go to

Leapfrog, XceL 3D printer, 3D printing a robot, Decos

The Xcel to the rescue

For previous robots Decos had used SLA 3D printers for prototyping, but due to the Butler’s volume, size and also deadline they came to the conclusion that only a large FDM 3D printer could do the job. Thanks to the capabilities and specs of the XceL 3D printer, Leapfrog was able to help out. With the XceL we printed the body of the butler in just a few parts. The design of the body shows some sort of dents, to put the empty coffee cups.

Meet The Butler of the Future

Leapfrog 3D printers, XceL 3D printer, 3D printing a robot, robot design, Decos

After the 3D camera was in place, the robot was able to move more precisely. The large printed parts needed some aftercare but where mostly ready to use. While the body of the butler is shaped organically and therefore complex for most production techniques, 3D printing stood up to the task. The height of the body (around 1 meter) made it a challenge, which was easily tackled by the XceL’s 2 meter height building platform. And by 3D printing it only took 2 days to produce the two parts.

The result looks great and is a testament to what the future of development, innovation, and production can bring. Jurjen just started his career as a robotics engineer and is already picking the fruits of the current technology, to create technology for times to come.


XceL 3D printer, Leapfrog