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  • The Problem: Often times dog owners find it a little gross and unappealing to pick up after their dogs. Using a plastic bag forces one to get very close to the poop, some people don’t like that feeling and might not even pick up after their dog. Dog waste makes streets unpleasant.

    The Solution: We designed a disposable pooper scooper that pops onto a 3D printed piece with a three foot handle.

    Detailed Solution: The pooper scooper uses a paper beak to pick up dog waste. It closes with a push of a button that turns on a solenoid to close the beak. THe three foot handle enables the user to be a comfortable distance from the waste.

    Main Story or Theme: Our studio focused on creating paper designs that could be printed and easily assembled. After playing around with paper folds for about three days, we decided to use our folds to build a gripper. Next we brainstormed several different fields that could use a gripper and finally, we decided that our design would be disposable.

    Mechanics: Our project is based around a three layer paper beak. The beak folds together from paper and is easily put together after being laser cut. It is a combination of three layers: bristol board, bristol board with adhesive and mylar with adhesive to give flexibility. We designed a 3D printed piece that holds the beak, battery, rod, and solenoid in place. At the top of the wooden rod is a switch that has wires running down to the battery and solenoid to make  circuit where when the switch is flipped the solenoid pushes out, closing the beak. The beak has a built in slot to easily pop onto the 3D printed piece.


    We started out by making an origami beak by folding paper and realizing how it went together. We tried putting a four bar linkage directly behind the beak to make it rotate up and down on the Y axis, which worked well. Then we realized that it could be closed by just two fingers on each corner, so we tried to make two separate four bar linkages to act as the fingers. We got the the beak to close but it was hard to control and it didn’t rotate that well along the X axis like we had hoped. By looking at the origami beak, we designed an outline in Rhino to later laser cut. We cut out two beaks, one iteration had a horizontal fold and the second one had a vertical fold (and hinges).     

    We designed two grounds, one for the beak with the horizontal fold and one for the beak with the horizontal fold. One ground was for the beak where as it closed, the sides would come together. The beak was vertically between the two pieces of wood and had two servos that were behind it with plastic wire attached to each. The wire pulled the back sides closer together, closing the beak. Each servo was programmed to be controlled by a potentiometer.

    The second ground was for the horizontal fold and used one solenoid to close the beak. The beak was pinned into the ground, so the solenoid could hit the precise corner. This design was very easy, only needing three different parts and no programming.

    Although the design controlled by servos has more freedom and is able to move and be controlled more precisely, the design with the solenoid is simpler and can be used for a specific problem, it could close with the press of a button. We decided it could be used to pick up dog poop because just using a plastic bag is a bit gross and not good for the environment. We could also have it pop on and off to throw out. It could also be on the wall in city streets so people could use it throw out the paper part and put it back. We decided that the ‘pooper scooper’ idea was most compelling and could maybe turn into something more movable later. We started designing in Fusion 360 a base with a pin and a box for the solenoid on the side. We had a few iterations of perfecting the box and making a holder for a wooden rod, which we ran wires up to a button.

  • Since the beginning of time, society has sought to improve transportation. The wheel was one of the greatest inventions in the process of improving transportation. Invented in roughly 3500 B.C. , it originally served as a potter's wheel in Mesopotamia. 300 years later, it was concept was applied on chariots. 5216 years later, and while there has been some improvement to the chariot wheel, should we be asking if there are better ways to make a wheel? One that would further improve transportation?

    Must the wheel be round, persay? Could it be another shape? Some say," if it isn't broken, why fix it".  But does it have to be broken to make it better? What if a tank tread and a wheel were combined?  The benefit of a tank is, after all, the ability of the vehicle to manuever over rough terrain with ease.  It is the tread that allows for this ability but, a big draw back is the heavy weight of the vehicle and the slow speed. 

    We set out to see if it would it be possible to create a wheel that would allow the vehicle to scale the same terrain with half the weight and half the material.

  • Our intention was to create a wearable paper fold device, so we created the “ThermoCuff” a bracelet that changes shape and color based on temperature and humidity. Originally we were unsure about our intention do to not having a concrete theme, however after brainstorming we decided that creating a wearable device would be the most interesting and feasible project. The bracelet has a servo linear actuator, which the interchangeable paper folds attach to, and as the temperature increases or decreases the actuator extends or shortens and the LED lights change colors. We originally thought, that the bracelet should be more like a sleeve, that wraps around the wearer's forearm, however after building our first prototype and receiving feedback, we decided that paper fold should sit on top of the arm. For our second iteration we worked on the mechanism that would cause the paper fold to condense and expand. When we started the project we thought that the bracelet should change shape based on temperature and color based on the wearer’s pulse, but at this point and after receiving more feedback, we decided that their were too many variables, so we nixed the idea of changing color based on the wearer’s heart rate. We then started working on the design of the bracelet, and how the different pieces would fit together. We decided to 3D print the bracelet, designing space for the servo linear actuator to sit on and for temperature and humidity monitor to go through. At this point in the designing process we decided to cut the bracelet in half, and have the bottom part be made out of velcro so anyone could wear it. After 3D printing the bracelet for our fifth iteration, we received feedback that it was too bulky, so we went back into fusion were it was designed and edited our design. Concurrently, we were designing different paper folds that could be interchangeable based on what the wearer wanted to wear and wrote the code for the arduino. Once we redesigned the 3D printed bracelet we put all the pieces together and designed and 3D printed caps for the nuts (due to previous feedback) we put our final iteration together. However, because of the many wires, the bracelet did not work all the time due to the wires falling out of the arduino. Also all the paper folds did not work as well as we wished, and due to limited time we were unable to spend much time working on how they would fold.

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  • The Printable Machines Studio dives into emerging robotics research that asks, ‘how can we transform robotic manufacturing in the same way information technologies have transformed communication.’ Printable machines are a new class of robotics that are leveraging traditional and novel technologies to provide inexpensive, on-demand, and DIY cyber-physical systems. Key to these systems is a melding of computer processing with material design—what many may refer to as programmable materials. The result is a future where smart, customized, robotic systems are printed at home by desktop technologies and implemented in our daily lives. 

    The studio is an introduction to the fundamental technologies behind current research into printable machines.   Students will gain hands on experience with two primary technologies, pop-up robotic manufacturing and embedded computing and sensing with Arduino:

    The first technology, pop-up robotics, is a method pioneered by researchers at Harvard’s Microrobitics Lab that utilizes computer aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) to design, fabricate, and assemble, two-dimensional laminated materials that self-assemble and ‘pop-up’ into three-dimensional kinematics systems. Within the context of the Printable Machines Studio, students will learn how to go from computer model to laser cutter to laminator in order to build novel kinematics systems with a smart material make-up.

    The second technology, embedded computing and sensing will introduce students to the popular microprocessing platform, Arduino. For over a decade, Arduino has inspired a robust community of at home and professional makers, hackers, and DIY’ers to embed computer processing in our everyday lives. Students will learn the fundamentals of the Arduino coding language, electrical circuit design, sensing and actuation, and how to use a combination of these system to design robotic systems capable of sensing and responding to their environment.