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MM Blog: A Transforming Programmable Polymer

A look at a material that can be programmed to change into complicated shapes without breaking down.

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.


What other industries could utilize this origami-like material? Could this pave the way in fabricating more geometrically-complex devices and products?

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