Robots made of … paper? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute have developed a pretty neat way to bring plain old paper to life.
The team used an inexpensive 3D printer to apply a thin layer of conducting thermoplastic, a material that becomes pliable when warm, but regains its original, hardened shape when cool.
When the researchers apply an electrical current, the melting thermoplastic makes the paper bend, fold, or flatten. Then, it springs back to its original shape when the current is removed.
HCII assistant professor Lab Lining Yao developed the novel actuation technology with her team at the Morphing Matter Lab.
“We are reinventing this really old material,” she said in a press release earlier this week. Researcher Guanyun Wang added “Most robots – even those that are made of paper – require an external motor. Ours do not, which creates new opportunities, not just for robotics, but for interactive art, entertainment and home applications.”
In addition to this claw machine, the team have already built things like a lampshade that changes shape and a paper mimosa plant that unfurls its leaves when touched.
Adafruit has had paid day off for voting for our team for years, if you need help getting that going for your organization, let us know – we can share how and why we did this as well as the good results. Here are some resources for voting by mail, voting in person, and some NY resources for our NY based teams as well. If there are additional resources to add, please let us know – adafruit.com/vote
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.