Rapid Polymer Prototyping for Low Cost and Robust Micro Robots (Mechanical Project)

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Interest in fabricating large numbers of small robots has grown recently due to applications ranging from mobile sensor networks to search and rescue. However, realizing these applications is difficult due to the extended fabrication time, cost, and fragility of current robot manufacture and design.

The RaMP Process presented in this work was developed to quickly fabricate large numbers of inexpensive, robust and compliant robots, both on the centimeter and millimeter scales. Milli-robots are defined as centimeter-sized robots with millimeter-scale features. Likewise, microrobots are defined as millimeter-sized robots with micron-scale features.

The Rapid Microrobot Prototyping (RaMP) Process uses Loctite(R) photo-patternable polymer products and photolithography to rapidly fabricate robust, inexpensive, and compliant robots.

The process is developed and examined on two size scales. On the size scale of several centimeters, two functional robots and a small gripper have been designed and demonstrated with shape memory alloy (SMA) used for actuation. On the sub-centimeter scale, designs and considerations for a walking microrobot fabricated with the process and its control are fully described.

The design and kinematics of a thermally actuated, one degree of freedom leg for the microrobot are developed and simulated. Several of these units could be combined to rapidly build a 30 mg functional and simple walking microrobot with the ability to lift several grams.
Source: University of Maryland
Author: Rajkowski, Jessica Elizabeth

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