# Is a printer a robot? [closed]

While formulating an answer to this question let us consider the parts and the function of the printer during its basic process. We tell the printer what we want it to do, "print this". The printer then produces the product we told it to produce. The printer is complex, being composed of multiple motors, and lever mechanisms which one might find in a robot. Printers, especially all-in-one printers are capable of multiple tasks. Printers such as these also have a sensor which "sees" an object and can replicate the object. There may now exist combinations of sensors which "see" and possibly "feel" an object which can be replicated in 3D. These are tasks which historically were performed by humans.

The answer should be more than yes or no, including explanation or proof.

Edit:

In response to posts regarding this question being a duplicate of What is the difference between a Robot and a Machine?, it is not. I am asking the reader if this particular device known as a printer is considered a type of robot. However, the suggested duplicate does offer more information to help answer this question. Also, it is suggested in the proposed duplicate post that THAT post should be placed in the philosophy exchange. I see the logic in my post and the other being placed there. I do also think these questions should be posted here because they are specific to robotics.

As for clarification, I am leaning toward personally defining printers, especially newer models, all-in-ones, and various 3d printing devices as robots. I am asking in order to clarify my own understanding and see if others agree. I also am seeking to understand the technology better and am having a hard time finding resources to study. I asked a question about the sort of courses I might take at school in the Academia exchange and no one knew ( https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/120366/what-courses-would-teach-me-how-to-better-understand-computer-printers ) So, I came here thinking I might need to take robotics courses to really learn how to make a printer for the future.

Edit:

FooBar has the best answer so far in the comments:

"Most printers have a very limited set of sensors (some limit switches and temperature sensors), but most are not even able to detect failed prints. So they are not able to sense or react to their environment."

Furthermore, thank you all for your comments/answers. I have found what I was looking for here.

• Before arguing if something is a robot, you need to define what a robot is first. Nov 21 '18 at 8:12
• Welcome to Robotics, takintoolong. As it stands, it's not clear what you're asking. As @PetchPuttichai mentions, you haven't stated criteria for what a robot is, but I believe if you did state the criteria then you would answer your own question. Beyond that, it's not clear to me what the object of your question is - are you asking about a "standard" printer, or a 3D printer? Are you trying to answer your own question in the body? You don't actually ask a question anywhere except in the title, and the text of your question doesn't serve to clarify the title. Nov 21 '18 at 17:39
• I think this is essentially a duplicate question ("What's the difference between a robot and a machine?") so I'm going to close this question as such. If the answers to that question don't also answer your question, please edit your post to state why the answers there were inadequate and what you're still looking for. Nov 21 '18 at 17:57
• Biological systems, for example a chicken, can be understood as a 3d printer. Reprogramming such a biological robot is possible with DNA modification. A possible way for creating Synthetic biological systems are grammar based domain specific languages like BioLogo. Nov 21 '18 at 19:58
• Your problem is as @PetchPuttichai has said: without defining what you mean by 'robot' there is no way to answer your question. There is no universally accepted definition of a 'robot'. If you type the question 'what is a robot?' into a search engine you'll find a variety of definitions, some of which would include printers and others that would exclude printers. Nov 22 '18 at 10:36

3d printers are without any doubt robots. The open question is, why don't they are behave so in reality? RepRap like printers for rapid prototyping are available since the year 2005. And additional robot arms who can take the object out of the shelf are also available as lowcost kit. The main problem isn't the hardware itself but the software. This piece of technology is called the printer driver which runs on the lowlevel side of the machine and on top of the firmware is the printing driver which has to control the device but also the robot arm in front of it. Providing the action commands for such a rapid prototyping assembly line is not an easy task. Each cnc-motor has a position and a torque and it's complicated to coordinate them all, especially in autonomous mode.

If seems that the bottleneck of printers isn't the hardware itself, which runs stable since decades, but the reason why printers are not recognized as human like robots has to do with the missing Artificial Intelligence software. That means, if someone is able to program the ROS software package for controlling a reprap 3d printer, he will transform the piece of plastic into a living organism which can reproduce itself. So the problem isn't the device but the firmware. That is an algorithm, which puts control commands into the machine.

• The open question is, why don't they are behave so in reality? What do you mean by this? Why don't they behave like what? Also, ROS doesn't really control anything, it's more of a development framework that provides standard methods for interfacing, visualizing, and debugging robotic systems. There are some standard processing packages that would enable mapping and navigation, but that won't "transform [a reprap] into a living organism which can reproduce itself." Besides, the question wasn't if printers are or could be living, but if they're robots. Nov 21 '18 at 18:05
• @Chuck By definition, a robot is a thinking machine. In contrast, 3d printing devices are perceived as a dump piece of hardware without onboard intelligence. To convert a lifeless printer into a human-like robot which can feel emotions and have dreams some kind of addon is needed, which is called software. Software can be realized with a robot control system which can be standard software or programmed individual for each printer. Nov 21 '18 at 18:35
• But define "thought." Is a self-driving car a robot then, by your definition? Is the only thing that can be a robot something that has emotions and dreams? Maybe you're thinking of an android? And again, OP never asks if a printer is human-like, or if it has emotions, just if it is a robot. Typically the definition of a robot is programmability and the ability to sense and react to feedback. I think your context of AI and human-like qualities is pushing towards androids, which are a subset of robots. Nov 21 '18 at 18:50
• If you can program it. Nov 21 '18 at 19:38
• "3d printers are without any doubt robots." That's wrong. Most printers have a very limited set of sensors (some limit switches and temperature sensors), but most are not even able to detect failed prints. So they are not able to sense or react to their environment. Which definition of a robot would include these machines? Nov 22 '18 at 8:24