Manufacturing & Prototyping

How to Knit a Robot: 'Morphing Matter Lab' Demonstrates

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have used computationally-controlled knitting machines to create plush toys and knitted objects that are actuated by tendons, demonstrating "4D knitting." These knitting machines are well-established and optimized for the mass production of garments, but compared to other digital fabrication techniques like CNC machining or 3D printing, they have received much less attention as general-purpose fabrication devices. This CMU approach could someday be used to cost-effectively make soft robots and wearable technologies. Software developed at CMU's Morphing Matter Lab makes it possible for the objects to emerge from the knitting machines in their desired shapes and with these tendons already embedded. They can then be stuffed and the tendons attached to motors, as needed.