Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Along the way toward creating robotic bees, Harvard University researchers devised a manufacturing process that could revolutionize the building of objects at this scale—a technique inspired by pop-up books. Engineers had been painstakingly assembling these 2.5-millimeter tall, 18-mm-long robo-bees by hand, a finicky, error-prone process. Now they use computer-design software to fashion thin sandwiches of carbon fiber, plastic, titanium, adhesive and other materials. The resulting contiguous part looks like a squashed version of the robo-insect. Then an exterior scaffolding reaches in and gently hoists the bee up into a full three dimensions, where glue and solder lock it into place. The creators hope their origami-engineering could be used for many types of small electromechanical objects.

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