• 06.09.14

3-D Printed Robotic Lamp Assembles Itself

Good robot.

3-D Printed Robotic Lamp Assembles Itself

Harvard University researchers have created a printable, self-assembling lamp that makes your standard table lamp look downright lazy. Most of the parts for the concept robot, created by researchers from Harvard’s Microrobotics Lab, can be 3-D printed–including most of the wiring and touch sensors that can turn the LED light on and off.


The system recently debuted at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong. As IEEE Spectrum describes it:

The thing that comes out of the printer (it’s a rather special sort of printer) is a flat multi-layer sandwich of shape-memory polymers (they take care of the actual folding, triggered by heat), thin layers of copper, layers of paper and foam for structure, and double-sided tape to keep it all stuck together.

The layers of foam and paper fold up on themselves, creating an adorable little cardboard lamp. According to IEEE Spectrum, the printed sensors are the true feat, and the researchers predict similar systems could ultimately be used in electronic circuits, including in home design:

Although printable sensors may lack the robust structural strength and reliability of other sensors, they have many potential applications such as low-cost rapid prototyping and manufacturing of customized designs in residential homes.

Learn more about the robotics behind the lamp from IEEE Spectrum.

About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut.