Popup design and manufacturing

We developed the "pop-up" design and manufacturing method to facilitate rapid and precise construction of articulate, microscale mechanisms, like the Robobee wing drive. As a design methodology, it promotes a design ideal that calls for minimal directed-assembly intervention of the devices. To achieve this, devices are manufactured as multilayered, multi-material laminate composites, and all joints are simultaneously fabricated within the laminate to produce closed chains of rigid links and flexure joints. The resulting device can potentially assemble itself with only a single input degree of freedom, similar to the engineered paper constructions in childrens’ pop-up books.

The manufacturing method involves bulk-machining geometry into each layer of the layered composite that are coordinated across layers. Patterned adhesive film is also incorporated with the layers, enabling areas to be selectively adhered to neighboring layers. The lamination process can require heat and/or pressure. The placement of adhered and non-adhered regions and flexure hinges within the laminated structure enables mechanical linkages to be fully formed during device lamination.

As a demonstration of this process, I designed and fabricated a 1:900 scaled model of the 1903 Wright Flyer, with a 14 mm wingspan. This object was chosen because its planes of symmetry facilitate its translation to a pop-up laminate mechanism design, and it exhibits intricacies that would be excruciatingly difficult to manually assembly. Sixteen hair-thin (0.1 mm square cross section) vertical struts separate the upper and lower wing planes. The entire structure unfolds and assembles with a single assembly degree of freedom, by opening the laminate composite like a book. Conceptually and practically, the structure embodies its method of assembly.

Find our Pop-up MEMS publication here: Link

Additional demonstration of an early Robobee design, constructed entirely with pop-up manufacturing: Link