This method allows for the creation or reuse of designs optimized for specific tasks. This extensible database that can be updated as users design and fabricate new robots. The resulting customized design provides the blueprints for fabrication: a folding pattern and a corresponding circuit design for each component, based on the robot’s desired properties and physical characteristics.
A modeling engine is associated with each component in the database. This engine selects the approximate desired parameters that match the user specification, for example, to create an insect robot with 6 legs, capable of carrying a radon sensor and covering a 200 m2 space within 24 hours. The design is instantiated with the parameters from the modeling engine, and the fabrication process begins. The circuit mask is printed on a flat sheet with a copper tape overlay, using a solid-ink printer, and is etched with ferric chloride. The process continues with the pick-and-place assembly of circuit components that cannot be incorporated in the printing process. The folding pattern is printed on the 2D sheet, after which the 3D robot is folded and the necessary actuators are added for function.