Move and Blink Paper Robot

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About: I used to teach middle school science, but now I run my own online educational science website. I spend my days designing new projects for students and Makers to put together.

Making a paper robot is easy. Making a paper robot DO the robot is something else.

Or if you don't enjoy doing the robot you can always do the robo-boogie.

In this guide we'll show you how to make a simple 3D paper craft robot that blinks and moves around. This project takes about 20-30 minutes and requires only the most simple of paper craft tools. We designed this project as something fun for students to build however the basic design is quite versatile and can easily be applied to any 3D paper craft template you find online.

Step 1: Parts and Supplies Needed

Tools:

  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • Clear tape or glue
  • Cutting mat

Supplies:

  • 1/4th inch Maker Tape brand Conductive Tape (It's Z Axis Conductive which is really important)
  • Blinking LED or regular LED. We're using either a 3mm or 5mm red LED in this write up.
  • Self Sticking Motor - The self sticking aspect is important.
  • CR2032 Battery
  • Printed off template

Step 2: Print and Cut Out the Template

Print off the supplied template, preferably on some heavier stock paper. The larger you can print off the cards the larger your robot will be.

Use scissors and an X-Acto knife to cut all the parts out. Cut along all the outside solid lines.

This would also be the time to color your robot. We highly recommend adding bright red racing flames in order to make it move faster.

We have a cute frog and penguin templates that we're working on as well, but they're not quite ready yet. You can also find heaps of 3D cube paper craft templates online that would also work just fine for this project.

Step 3: Fold the Dotted Lines

Every dotted line is a fold point. If you're having issues folding try using a ruler or the edge of a table to get straight folds.

Step 4: Cut the Slots

To turn this project on and off we're making our own 'pull tabs'.

Find the two "Insert" slats on the robot, one on the head and one on the body. Use an X-acto knife to cut out those slats. Make sure your pull tab can fit into those slats.

If you want to you can do the same thing for the robot's arms. Otherwise you can just glue them into place.

Step 5: Make the Pull Tabs

Fold the pull tab in half the long way. Notice how there are dotted lines running down the short half.

Cover one half of the pull tab with overlapping layers of conductive tape, both top and bottom. This should take two pieces of 1/4th inch wide tape. Since Maker Tape is Z-Axis Conductive your tape will make one big, solid, conductive area provided that at least slightly overlap.

Repete this process for the second pull tab.

Step 6: Add the Motor and Battery

Find the part of the robot's body that has the "Insert" slat. Turn the printed area face down so you're working on the back.

Take a small strip of tape and make a loop, sticky side out. Stick this on the bottom of your CR2032 battery.

Take your motor and remove the sticky backside. Stick it to the middle area of your robot body.

Put the sticky tape loop over one of the motor wires, securing both the wire and battery to the robot body.

Try touching the other motor wire to the top of the battery to make sure you have a solid connection.

**Again, Maker Tape is Z-Axis conductive which means the tape is conducting from the battery to the motor wire. Other conductive tape probably won't work for this.

**The motors we linked to in our write up area have extra exposed wire on them which makes them easier to connect to. If you're using a different motor you probably want to strip the ends a bit to ensure a solid connection.

Step 7: Apply Tape

Start by cutting a longer piece of tape and remove the backing. Thread one end of the tape through the "Insert" slat and onto the back of the robot. Run the rest of the tape around to the loose motor wire, securing it down.

Do this a second time by run your tape down and over the battery.

If your slat is wide enough the two pieces of tape won't touch without the "pull tab" inserted. If they are making contact you can use the paper side of your "pull tab" to break the circuit. This is your ON/OFF switch.

Either way, make sure your motor is starting up before you build the rest of your robot.

Step 8: Assemble the Body

Use tape or glue to assemble the bottom half of your robot.

We prefer to use clear tape so that we can open the robot back up to replace the battery.

Step 9: Create the Head

We're more or less repeating the same steps as before, just with an LED.

Stick the LEGs of the LED through the top of the robot head. Depending on your LED you may wish to bend the legs in half so they'll fit. Make special note of which is the long Positive leg and which is the short Negative leg. In our pictures the Negative leg is on the left and connects to the longer piece of conductive tape.

Repete the tape loop process with the battery as well as threading the two pieces of tape through the "insert" slat.

Make sure that your LED turns on with your pull tab. (Or turns off with the paper side of the tab.)

Step 10: Combine Everything Together and Do the Robot

Finish up by making the rest of the head, and then combine the head with the body using tape or glue.

At this point you can sit back and enjoy watching your robo body do a fun dance.

If you make any fun 3D paper craft projects using this process please post a photo below! Thanks to the self sticking nature of the motor you can pretty much follow these steps with any paper craft project.

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