Your World This Week, Mar. 13 – 19

Published March 14, 2016
Updated September 22, 2016

New Foldable Material Can Change Size, Volume And Shape


The material is inspired by the origami technique of snapology, presented above. Image Source: Flickr

Want to bring your bed to work? A new material developed by Harvard may just make this possible.

“We have designed a three-dimensional, thin-walled structure that can be used to make foldable and reprogrammable objects of arbitrary architecture, whose shape, volume and stiffness can be dramatically altered and continuously tuned and controlled,” said Johannes T.B. Overvelde from the Harvard University.

They added that the material is able “to withstand the weight of an elephant without breaking,” the Hindu reported.

Researchers said that the material — made from “extruded cubes with 24 faces and 36 edges” — is inspired by an origami technique called snapology, and like origami can be folded to change its shape.

As its shape changes, researchers add, so too does its stiffness, meaning that “one could make a material that is very pliable or very stiff using the same design,” the Hindu reported.

More than a laboratory wonder, researchers added that the material has practical applications as well. “This structural system has fascinating implications for dynamic architecture including portable shelters, adaptive building facades and retractable roofs,” scientist Chuck Hoberman said.

Read more at The Hindu.

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  • All That's Interesting
    All That's Interesting is a Brooklyn-based digital publisher that seeks out stories that illuminate the past, present, and future.