Robotic insects spring to life in a new origami-like mass production technique
A new technique inspired by elegant pop-up books and origami will soon allow clones of robotic insects to be mass-produced by the sheet. Devised by engineers at Harvard, the ingenious layering and folding process enables the rapid fabrication of not just microrobots, but a broad range of electromechanical devices. In prototypes, 18 layers of carbon fiber, Kapton (a plastic film), titanium, brass, ceramic and adhesive sheets have been laminated together in a complex, laser-cut design. The structure incorporates flexible hinges that allow the three-dimensional product -- just 2.4 millimeters tall -- to assemble in one movement, like a pop-up book. The entire product is approximately the size of a US quarter, and dozens of these microrobots could be fabricated in parallel on a single sheet.