Dream This Up: Structures Meld Art And Design
The entire structure can be pressed totally flat, but by building in pneumatic actuators, designers can essentially "pre-program" different and potentially quite sophisticated shapes. The actuators can be triggered by electricity, thermal energy or even water. Set the folded material down, throw in a charge, and the structure unfolds and assembles itself.
"Whereas current approaches to these applications rely on standard mechanics, this technology offers unique advantages such as how it integrates surface and structure, its inherent simplicity of manufacture, and its ability to fold flat," said Hoberman.
What makes the breakthrough particularly promising is that the technology is fully scalable, researchers say. Depending on materials, the system could be deployed to create large structures like pop-up buildings, or nanoscale assemblages like surgical stents delivered through the bloodstream.
Origami Kits Unfold Into Portable, Pop-Up Rooms
The technology is still in the very early stages of development, but the research team has already connected a test series of 64 cells in a 4x4x4 cube that can change shape or fold completely flat. Here's a demo video of the 4-D origami system in action: