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Design of a Reconfigurable Modular Chain for Folding 3D Lattice Structures

[+] Author Affiliations
Zhe Xu, Connor McCann, Aaron M. Dollar

Yale University, New Haven, CT

Paper No. DETC2016-59496, pp. V05BT07A054; 7 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5B: 40th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, August 21–24, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5016-9
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


A wide range of engineering applications, ranging from civil to space structures, could benefit from the ability to construct material-efficient lattices that are easily reconfigurable. The challenge preventing modular robots from being applied at large scales is mainly the high level of complexity involved in duplicating a large number of highly integrated module units. We believe that reconfigurability can be more effectively achieved at larger scales by separating the structural design from the rest of the functional components. To this end, we propose a modular chain-like structure of links and connector nodes that can be used to fold a wide range of 2D or 3D structural lattices that can be easily disassembled and reconfigured when desired. The node geometry consists of a diamond-like shape that is one twelfth of a rhombic dodecahedron, with magnets embedded on the faces to allow a forceful and self-aligning connection with neighboring links. After describing the concept and design, we demonstrate a prototype consisting of 350 links and experimentally show that objects with different shapes can be successfully approximated by our proposed chain design.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
Topics: Chain , Design



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