In this episode, a material that can be programmed to change into complicated shapes without wearing down. Welcome to your Manufacturing Minute.
Scientists in China have created a “rubbery” polymer that, by using heat, can fold itself into various origami shapes. This process can occur again and again without sacrificing the integrity of the material.
The polymer is programmed just like a computer, which allows it to process what shape it takes next. Researchers program the material by manually folding the polymer at various high temperatures, allowing it to be “trained” to fold on its own.
Future applications could include reusable medical devices or shape-shifting aerospace structures, scientists said. The polymer, once developed further, would reportedly cost around the same amount as common plastics.
Researchers said they hope to experiment with other various materials, as well as work with a version of the polymer in lower temperatures.
SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What other industries could utilize this origami-like material? Could this pave the way in fabricating more geometrically-complex devices and products? Email us or leave your comments below.
That’s all the time we have for today, but tune in every weekday for your next Manufacturing Minute.