Skip to main content

A Design Environment for the Rapid Specification and Fabrication of Printable Robots

Part of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics book series (STAR,volume 109)


In this work, we have developed a design environment to allow casual users to quickly and easily create custom robots. A drag-and-drop graphical interface allows users to intuitively assemble electromechanical systems from a library of predesigned parametrized components. A script-based infrastructure encapsulates and automatically composes mechanical, electrical, and software subsystems based on the user input. The generated design can be passed through output plugins to produce fabrication drawings for a range of rapid manufacturing processes, along with the necessary firmware and software to control the device. From an intuitive description of the desired specification, this system generates ready-to-use printable robots on demand.


  • Design co-generation
  • Personal robots
  • Printable robots

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-23778-7_29
  • Chapter length: 15 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-23778-7
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12


  1. Mavroidis, C., DeLaurentis, K.J., Won, J., Alam, M.: Fabrication of non-assembly mechanisms and robotic systems using rapid prototyping. J. Mech. Des. 123(4), 516–524 (2001)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  2. Richter, C., Lipson, H.: Untethered hovering flapping flight of a 3d-printed mechanical insect. Artif. life 17(2), 73–86 (2011)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  3. Rossiter, J., Walters, P., Stoimenov, B.: Printing 3d dielectric elastomer actuators for soft robotics. In SPIE Smart Structures and Materials+ Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring, International Society for Optics and Photonics, pp. 72870H–72870H (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Hoover, A.M., Fearing, R.S.: Fast scale prototyping for folded millirobots. In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 886–892. IEEE (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  5. Liu, Y., Boyles, J., Genzer, J., Dickey, M.: Self-folding of polymer sheets using local light absorption. Soft Matter 8, 1764–1769 (2012)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  6. Shimoyama, I., Miura, H., Suzuki, K., Ezura, Y.: Insect-like microrobots with external skeletons. IEEE Control Syst. 13(1), 37–41 (1993)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  7. Brittain, S., et al.: Microorigami: Fabrication of small, three-dimensional, metallic structures. J. Phys. Chem. B 105(2), 347–350 (2001)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  8. Hawkes, E., et al.: Programmable matter by folding. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107(28), 12441–12445 (2010)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  9. Tolley, M., Felton, S., Miyashita, S., Xu, L., Shin, B., Zhou, M., Rus, D., Wood, R.: Self-folding shape memory laminates for automated fabrication. In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lang, R.: Origami Design Secrets : Mathematical Methods for an Ancient Art. A K Peters/CRC Press, Boca Raton (2012)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  11. Demaine, E., Fekete, S., Lang, R.: Circle packing for origami design is hard. In: Proceddings of the 5th International Conference on Origami in Science, Mathematics and Education, pp. 609–626 (2010)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Mehta, A.M., et al.: A scripted printable quadrotor: rapid design and fabrication of a folded MAV. In 16th International Symposium on Robotics Research (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Mehta, A.M., DelPreto, J., Rus, D.: Cogeneration of mechanical, electrical, and software designs for printable robots from structural specifications. In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), (2014) (to appear)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Mathworks Simulink. Accessed 26 May 2014

  15. NI Labview. Accessed 26 May 2014

  16. King, A.L., Feng, L., Sokolsky, O., Lee, I.: Assuring the safety of on-demand medical cyber-physical systems. In 1st International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems, Networks, and Applications (CPSNA), pp. 1–6. IEEE (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lego mindstorms. Accessed 26 May 2014

  18. VEX Robotics. Accessed 26 May 2014

  19. Bezzo, N., Park, J., King, A., Geghard, P., Ivanov, R., Lee, I.: Demo abstract: Roslab a modular programming environment for robotic applications. In ACM/IEEE International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems (ICCPS), IEEE (2014) (to appear)

    Google Scholar 

  20. An, B., et al.: An end-to-end approach to making self-folded 3d surface shapes by uniform heating. In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. IEEE (2014) (accepted)

    Google Scholar 

  21. Onal, C.D., Wood, R.J., Rus, D.: An origami-inspired approach to worm robots. IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron. 18(2), 430–438 (2013)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  22. Makerbot flexible filament. Accessed 26 May 2014

Download references


This material is based on research sponsored by the National Science Foundation awards EFRI-1240383 and CCF-1138967, for which the authors express thanks.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ankur Mehta .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Mehta, A. et al. (2016). A Design Environment for the Rapid Specification and Fabrication of Printable Robots. In: Hsieh, M., Khatib, O., Kumar, V. (eds) Experimental Robotics. Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics, vol 109. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-23777-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-23778-7

  • eBook Packages: EngineeringEngineering (R0)