Printable Lamp Assembles Itself


With the advent of 3D printers, printable circuits, and other “one-machine-to-rule-them-all” automated systems, printing fully functional items is fast becoming a reality. The lamp seen above starts out as a flat piece of cardboard with circuits printed onto it — apply some electricity and it will fold itself up, creating a lamp — it even has a capacitiveĀ touch sensor for turning it on!

This ingenuity comes straight from Harvard researchers who presented the project “Self-assembling Sensors for Printable Machines” at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) just last Tuesday in Hong Kong. It’s not fully printable (wires and the LED had to be soldered in by hand) but it’s an amazing proof of concept — there’s also an Arduino off-screen taking care of controlling it.

The cardboard is a sandwich of shape-memory polymers which are triggered by heat, generated by running electricity through thin layers of copper trace. It takes a long time to assemble so the following video has been sped up 32x speed.

Fascinating stuff!

[Via Hacked Gadgets]

14 thoughts on “Printable Lamp Assembles Itself

      1. Water cooling certain speeds things up, does make it a bit cumbersome though.

        I have seen engines and the like using a loop of SMA where movement is caused by heating one side and letting the other air cool. (They’re not very fast)

        Now that’d work well as actuators underwater.

    1. I guess you could revolutionize the packaging industry by having stuff pack itself. Unpacking itself would be neat.

      Could make flat-pack self-assembly furniture actually live up to its name.

      It would certainly make origami easier.

    2. Yes, I have a real world application for this – I sometimes need to assemble equipment at pressures that would kill a human being. The ability to push/slide small pieces around inside a pressure chamber without paying unbelievably high amounts of money would be very valuable to me. So, self-assembly is a great boon for working in hostile environments.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.