Introduction: KURT.1 the Articulated Cardboard Robot

About: I studied electronics at school and in the last years I have become passionate about: mechanical design, Arduino IDE, Raspberry Pi, Stepper motors, LED lights, cybersecurity, web development, Adroid App develo…

Hello makers and artists!

As I promised you in the instructable about building a cardboard city, now I am here to introduce you the instructable about building the fantastic Kurt1 robot.

Kurt1 is a fully articulated cardboard robot, invented by my dear friend Emiliano. The robot can be placed in all different poses, it can grab things, it moves its limbs and its arms in an anthropomorphic way. The name etymology is a word pun coming the Italian word for cardboard "cartone" so Kurt-one and then Kurt1.

Kurt1 development took more than 3 months of design and sprouted from its inventor mind because he wanted to create a cardboard toy that was different from the others: he wished it to be "alive"; so building a robot was the perfect choice. Likewise action figures, this cardboard robot had to be articulated and have lots of different poses. The problem was to figure out how to make its limps move only starting from cardboard. Emiliano's great mind realized how he could use cardboard properties at its advantages. We will see this in great details in a special step.

There was a lot of experimentation and study to come out with the final product, I hope that following along with the instructions you manage to make this project alive by yourself.

Kurt1 comes in three different versions:

- KURT.1 (the first and the original one, the one with the grey background in the pictures)

- KURT.1 STEAMPUNK (the one with the red background)

- KURT.1 SAMURAI (which reminds of a cardboard Gundam, the one with the blue background)

DANGER: As always before starting, remember to pay attention while using the cutter!

Step 1: Materials Needed: Cardboard Only!

- rigid 2-layer cardboard 6mm thick

- slim 2mm thick cardboard

- glue gun

That's it!! The rest is just creativity.

Step 2: Understanding Cardboard Properties

Before starting to work with cardboard it is important to understand its properties.

Cardboard it is an extremely versatile material because the following things work with it:

- if it is cut lengthwise it is very rigid (↑ arrow up symbol)

- if it is cut widthwise it is less rigid (→ arrow right symbol), but if it is half cut and then marked with a ruler it will bend always along the cut line

Crossing two strips of cardboard, one cut lengthwise and the other widthwise we can make them slide and thus create a joint.

There is a video of a demonstrative cardboard robot where you can see how all the junctures move.

We had prepared instructions on how to build a cardboard robot which are very detailed and you can download them down here. I am sure you will be able to follow along well with the images.

Step 3: Cutting All the Cardboard Strips

You can download the attached PDF, print all the pages and cut the paper strips and use them as template to trace the contour on the cardboard that will have to be cut in strips.

The width of each strip is 20mm and made of 6mm thick cardboard.

Pay attention when cutting the strips, some strips, for example 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 have to be cut lenghtwise ( ↑ arrow up symbol), some other strips, for example 5, 6, 9 have to be cut widthwise (→ arrow right symbol)

The folding points are where there are dashed line. The distance between the dashed line is given in the table below measuring from the bottom of the strips. Have a look at the example of strip 24 to understand the logic to mark properly the cardboard strips.


1. 97mm fold at 36mm

2. 132mm fold at 61mm

3. 112mm fold at 56mm

4. 86mm fold at 25mm

5. 111mm fold at 56mm

6. 66mm

7. 157mm fold at 30mm + 20mm + 31mm + 10mm + 41mm + 25mm

8. 71mm fold at 20mm + 26mm + 25mm

9. 274mm fold at 46mm + 25mm + 31mm + 23mm + 25mm + 23mm + 30mm + 25mm + 46mm

10. 137mm fold at 61mm + 15mm + 61mm

11. 284mm fold at 25mm + 20mm +25mm +20mm + 30mm + 36mm +41mm + 46mm + 41mm

12. 122mm fold at 61mm

13. 56mm

14. 203mm fold at 20+20+25+30+30+37+41

15. 102mm fold at 46mm

16. 30mm

17. 127mm fold at 71mm

18. 106mm fold at 61mm

19. 76mm

20. 202mm fold at 41mm + 25mm + 10mm + 25mm + 20mm + 15mm + 10mm + 15mm + 41mm

21. See drawing

22. 72mm

23. It is the same as strip number 11

24. 142mm fold at 51mm + 20mm + 30mm + 41mm

25. 101mm fold at 25mm + 51mm

C2 20mm x 152mm (this is made of slim cardboard, 2mm)

C4 40mm x 152mm (this is made of slim cardboard, 2mm)

Step 4: Building the Leg

You have to build 2 legs which are exactly the same.

As you can see it is important to pay attention that when you place strip 1 onto strip 2 there is no room between them and they form a perfect L.

C4 rectangle made of slim cardboard is responsible for keeping the leg joint in place. Be careful when applying the glue, it has to be placed exactly on the spots shown in the instructions and must not overflow on the moving juncture.

Step 5: Building the Foot

C2 strip of slim cardboard is used to secure and close the foot juncture: the ankle.

Pulling the ankle down will result in the foot hell and tip to move downwards.

Step 6: Joining the Legs Into the Hip

Here we encounter the first torsion cardboard mechanism, which is obtained fixing a bendable cardboard strip (strip 11) to two rigid points (strip 10 and 9).

Step 7: Building the Shoulder

The shoulder is another joint similar to the one we have already made for the waist.

Step 8: Building the Arm

C4 is a slim cardboard rectangular-shaped piece which is placed in a way that, similarly for the leg, will let the cardboard juncture slide up and down.

Step 9: Building the Hand

For the hand there is smart mechanism similar to the one of the food, everything is calculated in a way that when the wrist is pushed ahead it will close the hand, which can grab firmly things such as a pencil or a wand.

Step 10: Building the Head and Torso

The torso is the only piece of thick cardboard that is not in the form of a strip. The torso can be personalized also in another more rounded or more rectangular shape.

If you would like the head to move you can make it as another cardboard juncture like shown in the instructions.

Step 11: Joining All the Pieces

This is the last step to have your cardboard robot fully assembled.

Congratulations for getting here!!

Step 12: Kurt.1 Interchangeable Face

You can add small cadboard details on the robot. We have added a heart because Kurt1 is a robot with feelings!

You can change its face at your liking, we made one with the letter "K" of Kurt as its eyebrows and with rounded curious eyes.

Step 13: Kurt.1 Samurai Version

The samurai version really reminds of a Gundam robot.

To make it you have to start from the basic Kurt1 skeleton and then add as many details as possible made of slim cardboard. Add all sort of wingtips, triangles, fins and vanes. We have also glued some cool futuristic shoulder pads.

Step 14: Kurt.1 Steampunk Version

Steampunk Kurt1 has a different torso and has a crest that gives him the punk look.

Removing the outer cover of cardboard allows the outer cardboard wave to become visible: this technique was used to make Kurt1 Steampunk harms and torso to look cooler and unique.

Step 15: Building KURT.1 Project Complete!

Let me know which Kurt1 version is your favorite :)

Kurt.1 robot series was an Etsy venture that my dear friend Emiliano (on the left in the picture) and me used to run together.

We funded the Etsy shop called Antu Desing Carboardmyth. Unfortunately, we decided to stop for now because the demand for cardboard robots was very timid. If you think that we should get back on business let us know.

I hope you will have fun building your own cardboard robots.

Best wishes makers!!

Bye! Until the next instructable,


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