Once you get exposure to a laser cutter, you’re hooked. It’s an amazing tool for precise cuts, but creating hinges is not a strength.
The hinges on the Dash Robot Kit are what caught my eye. The frame of the robot takes shape instantly along hinges from a flat piece of laser cut plastic. The magic which makes this possible lies in how the template is prepared and cut.
So how does Dash Robot prepare and cut their robot frame? The secret is in a material sandwich that results in a sturdy structure with hinges when cut and assembled. First, two sheets of PET plastic are laser cut where hinges are intended, the second sheet is cut to be the mirror image of the first. Next, an adhesive is applied to the two surfaces which become the top and bottom of the sandwich with a layer of cloth in the middle. Lastly, this new material sandwich is cut again, the shape of the robot frame.
Above you can see the stages of this process. The black lines were cut first and have cloth hinges. The grey lines were cut last to release the pieces of the frame. Lastly, the white structure is the robot frame which only took a second to go from flat to full form. There’s magic in them there hinges!
While the properties of this material sandwich produce a novel robot frame, it’s far from the whole story. This product is a robot after all! The kit comes with a controller loaded with sensors (accelerometer, gyro, light and touch sensors, and LED indicators), connectivity (Bluetooth 4.0), and an iOS App. Assembly is a quick hour-long exercise but the fun will last for many hours.