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Bake Your Own Robot

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have introduced the concept of "bakable robots."


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers recently introduced the concept of "bakable robots." In two papers, the researchers describe printable robotic components that fold into predetermined three-dimensional (3D) configurations when heat is applied.

One paper centers on creating two-dimensional patterns for self-folding plastic to follow to create 3D shapes based on a digital specification such as a computer-aided design file. The second paper discusses the development of electrical components, such as resistors and actuators, using self-folding laser-cut materials.

The work expands on previous MIT research into adapting origami to create reconfigurable robots.

Critical to the new work is a method for precisely controlling the angles at which a heated sheet folds, says MIT postdoctoral research associate Shuhei Miyashita.

The researchers place a sheet of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) between two films of stiff polyester with slits of varying widths. The PVC contracts when heated, causing the slits to close and the PVC to deform where the edges of the polyester film press against one another. Creating the pattern of slits is challenging, involving a complicated global control that moves every edge in the system at the same time, says MIT professor Daniela Rus.

From MIT News
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