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Press Release 12-157 - Video
A video of engineered polymer sheets folding on their own when heat is applied.

A simple approach to self-folding of pre-stressed polymer sheets is demonstrated using local heat absorption on pre-defined hinges patterned by black ink from a desktop printer. Such work will be investigated further in an EFRI project led by Jan Genzer of NC State. His team will explore origami with polymer sheets that fold in response to light, creating new multi-functional 3-D structures that form rapidly into precisely controlled shapes. The polymer sheets will fold at hinges defined by inkjet printing--an approach that can be broadened to a range of 2-D patterning techniques, including screen-printing and lithography. The researchers will study and model the scaling laws of folding, the rate of folding, and the mechanics of folding to develop compliant folding mechanisms. With new understanding of materials and the use of external stimuli, the team will enhance control of folding to increase the functionality of the 3-D structure. This simple, versatile approach aims to lead to a novel paradigm for developing materials with unprecedented functions and properties.

Credit: Ying Liu, Julie Boyles, Michael Dickey, Jan Genzer, North Carolina State University

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