Can you ever imagine creation of shape shifting materials through Japanese paper folding technique. A engineers’ team recently gave a touch of reality to this idea by taking a new approach to material research by employing the old Japanese art of kirigami in creation of shapeshifting materials. Kirigami includes both folding and cutting of paper sheets to achieve the three dimensional shapes. The cutting option provides the art with increased adaptability for geometries as compared to its close ally origami. It can lead to creation of complicated 3D shapes from some singular 2D sheets. This one feature proved to be the point of origin for metamaterials research.
Metamaterials are the special materials designed to inculcate those properties that can’t be obtained naturally. For instance, you can create metamaterials for modifying electromagnetic waves in a very precise manner. This cannot be done with the traditional stuff. But the team working in the University of Bristol have a very different concept for this project, they were determined to design a mechanical metamaterial that could alter its shape on its own. According to Fabrizio Scarpa, the co-author of this research, “Mechanical metamaterials exhibit unusual properties through the shape and deformation of their engineered subunits. Our research presents a new investigation of the kinematics of a family of cellular metamaterials based on kirigami design principles. This technique allows us to create cellular structures with engineered cuts and folds that produce large shape and volume changes and with extremely directional, tuneable mechanical properties.”
This metamaterial here has been produced with the help of a film of polyether ether ketone (PEEK), a thermoplastic polymer that comes with good formability. This film was cut, then corrugated, and then folded in form of an open honeycomb structure. Through modification of cut patterns one can easily bring-in channels and holes in this configuration. This permits a very different kind of sensing and the electronic systems can be integrated within the structure which will result in a smart kind of shape-shifting material.
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