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Mark Rober with the CMR creates the World’s Smallest Nerf Gun

We recently had the chance to collaborate with YouTuber Mark Rober in order to create the world’s smallest NERF gun. Watch the video here! This was an incredible project to be a part of, both because of the challenging design problems and the opportunity to work with Mark Rober and his team.

First, we transformed the full-size NERF Maverick into a one-piece, 3D-printable compliant mechanism that was able to launch a dart approximately 80% as far as the actual Maverick. Since compliant mechanisms are easily scalable without scaling stress, we were then able to easily create a 1/10th scale of the blaster, manufacturable using micro-3D printing.

Brian Jensen and the BYU MEMs lab were able to help us miniaturize it even further. Through a process involving the growth of miniscule carbon nanotubes, we created a functional blaster at 1/100th the scale of the Maverick.

Firing the blaster—which had a length of 0.1209in—at this scale was incredibly complicated. It required fixturing the blaster so it wouldn’t move when actuated, as well as using a micromanipulator to fire the blaster. Hundreds of this smallest scale compliant blaster were created, tested, and broken, before one successfully fired. The YouTube video shows one of our successful attempts!

The carbon nanotube growth process was also able to create non-functional blasters at 1/1,000th and 1/10,000th scale. These are barely visible to the naked eye, but Dr. Rivera with BYU’s Microscopy department was able to help us get electron microscopy images of the blasters.

We’re very pleased with the outcomes of this project. Check out also this academic article related to the project:

Howell, Larry L., and Terri Bateman. "Extending research impact by sharing maker information." nature communications 14.1 (2023): 6170.