Pop-up Fabrication of Microelectromechanical (MEMs) Robots

Imagine a pop-up book where instead of clever props made of paper, you get a fully assembled electromechanical vehicle the size of a quarter. Engineers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a fabrication technique inspired by origami and pop-up books to create a monolithic assembly scaffold (and machine) that allows a robot bee (Mobee) to be assembled in one movement.


The final board that serves as the scaffold and the machine that will be popped-up and detached from the scaffold, is made of multiple layers of material sandwiched together. The layers are designed and cut to come together to create flexible joints that make the movement possible - just like in pop-up books. Layers with brass material are cut and exposed to serve as glue points which will lock solid during a chemical dip phase. Electrical components and circuits can be integrated into the board, as with a printed circuit board.

The Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering published an article, Pop-up Book MEMs with an extensive description of the process.

Todd Hopkinson