Introduction: DIY Carboard Horsepower

This project is called the "DIY Carboard Horsepower" and was created by 6 students at the university Tec de Monterrey, México as part of the Creativity and Innovation course. The challenge was to build a complete car that can transport one person using only cardboard, glue and scotch tape. Later all cars built by the different teams competed in a multi-course race. Categories of evaluation were Speed, Design and Durability.


  • 60 sheets of cardboard with dimensions: 101cm x 70cm (3mm thickness)
  • 1kg of White glue for wood and cardboard
  • 1 roll of Scotch tape

Step 1: Adapt Cardboard Sheet Size

First you have to cut the cardboard sheets to the size that fits into the laser cutter. The laser cutter we had available for use had a size of 90cm by 60cm.

Accordingly to our car design we cut away 16.6 centimeters from the short side of the cardboard. This was done using knife and a ruler - no laser cutter needed - because it was faster and more simple. Now we had 60 sheets of 70cm by 84.4cm and 60 small sheets of 16.6cm by 70cm.

Step 2: Laser Cut

First of all you need a desing. After several itterations of different build -ups and configurations of the car, we had choosen a simple model with two wheels. This model was also created in a way that uses maximum of the cardboard, so that a little waste is produced by the manufacturing process.

CAD design was dome using Solidworks and then transfered into a G-File code for the laser cutter using RD8-Works, but you can use any 3D-Design software to model it.

Our car is designed to be pulled, thereby the wheels offer enought support and the diametre is choosen to easily oversome small ground differences - designed for racing on the grass.

By laser cutting you can change the speed and power of the cutter to increase the production output per hour.

Step 3: Assembly

Because of the restrictions for the cardbora´rd race we were pertmitted to use just a glue and tape. If you have the choise use some water-based glue that you can dissolve in a little bit of water to reduce the amounts of glue needed and to reduce your costs without affecting the adhession and strength of the connection.

Glue the plates togeather and let them dry over night unter some pressure to insure the optimal adhession and geometry of the pied´ces.

Take some tubes and fill them with small pieces of paper mixed with glued. this will improve the strength of it and reduce the risk of breaking them. This is highly important for the main axis k´where the wheels are mounted.

There are several other designs that you may consider - for example: cutting out small round cicrles and fill them into the tube, this will also be a great improvement of the mechanical characteristics.

Step 4: Final Design

Think outside the box. Use you imagination and develop an interesting cover of your car.

We choose a horse head for our car. Please dont ask why.

Also think about additional features like safety belts made out of tape, storage units, and so on. It is also recommended that you test your car and look for design flaws and redesing it, improve it and iterate.

Good luck!