Milli-Joints at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab

I’ve been working with Michelle Rosen and Zhi Ern Teoh for 6.S080. Last week we worked on making revolute joints at the milli- scale for use in milli expandable mechanisms. We were looking at simple pin joints, hopefully illustrated well below:

cad

We’re making them in the 2D laminate process, which Michelle and Zhi are very familiar with but I found fascinating and just super cool. They have a tiny laser cutter that is very precise and accurate, laser cut little 1″x1″ carbon fiber pieces and adhesive pieces, put it all together, and then do a release cut to actually get an intricate 3D structure out of an inherently 2D process.

lasercutting

Their tiny laser cutter!

So for the class we looked at varying the pin diameter and varying the gap size to optimize, or really, see how small we could go. 🙂 The minimum gap size we could achieve was 20 microns, the width of the laser. We made a bunch and ended up with some sweet joints!lotsofjoints

They all worked pretty well, and it was clear that the 2o micron gap sized turned smoothly and had very little slop, which was really the best of all worlds. The tiniest joint we made was a little fragile, but everything else worked well.

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