Soda bottles are a necessary (?) evil of our modern world. Largely destined for landfills, or recycling facilities that still use resources to turn them into something useful, one might be tempted to overlook their clever design. Inexpensive or free, standardized, and with a relatively high strength (and volume) to weight ratio, PET bottles could be ideal structural materials… if there was just a good way to stick them together.
That was the idea behind TrussFab, a computer program which helps attach these bottles together to form rigid trusses. Taking this one step further, the TrussFormer Project, facilitates the construction of bottle-truss structures that can actually move. The system assists with designing a structure, programming movements, and analyzing stresses that it will encounter in order to ensure the new creation doesn’t break apart.
Once the contraption is designed, TrussFormer automatically generates 3D-printable connection joint files, complete with markings to facilitate assembly. Per the project’s research paper, movement of the structure is controlled by an Arduino Nano — though near any dev board should work — which activates a series of pneumatic actuators to make whatever you designed come to life! Be sure to check out the “terrifying” soda bottle dinosaur lurching around in the video below.