Robot Self-Assembly by Folding

Printing and folding are fast and inexpensive methods for prototyping complex machines. Self-assembly of the folding step would expand the possibilities of this method to include applications where external manipulation is costly, such as micro-assembly, mass production, and space applications. This project investigates a method for self-folding of printed robots from two-dimensional materials based on shape memory polymers actuated by joule heating using embedded circuits. This method was shown to be capable of sequential folding, angle-controlled folds, slot-and-tab assembly, and mountain and valley folds. These features, in turn, can be combined to create complex structures and dynamic linkages, and all necessary components for the folding process can be embedded in the machine, enabling autonomous assembly. We can also include additional functional layers such as magnetic sheets and copper pads to create planar sensors that are compatible with the self-folding fabrication process.

Printing and folding are fast and inexpensive methods for prototyping complex machines. Self-assembly of the folding step would expand the possibilities of this method to include applications where external manipulation is costly, such as micro-assembly, mass production, and space applications.  This project investigates a method for self-folding of printed robots from two-dimensional materials based on shape memory polymers actuated by joule heating using embedded circuits.  This method was shown to be capable of sequential folding, angle-controlled folds, slot-and-tab assembly, and mountain and valley folds. These features, in turn, can be combined to create complex structures and dynamic linkages, and all necessary components for the folding process can be embedded in the machine, enabling autonomous assembly. We can also include additional functional layers such as magnetic sheets and copper pads to create planar sensors that are compatible with the self-folding fabrication process.

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