A technique inspired by pop-up books could enable quicker production of tiny robots and other electrical devices, according to Harvard engineers. Usually, building a micro aerial vehicle — or any other robot — requires a painstaking assembly process, with each little wing or sensor folded and machined just so. Now it can come together in a single fold.
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It works by combining all the robots’ component layers, sandwiching each piece of metal or carbon fiber into a single sheet. First each layer is laser-etched into the proper design, and the sheets are laminated together. The end result is a hexagonal sheet with a small assembly scaffold, with the whole thing the size of a U.S. quarter.
The entire assembly has 137 folding joints. The assembly scaffold, which has folds of its own, performs 22 origami-style folds, resulting in a fully formed robot you can pop out and turn on — in this case, it's the Harvard Monolithic Bee, or Mobee.
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