Flat-Pack Structures Self-Assemble With A Jolt Of Electricity [Video]

Flat-Pack Structures Self-Assemble With A Jolt Of Electricity [Video]

Scientists have developed flat pack structures that can autonomously assemble into 3D shapes when linked to an electrical current.

Daniela Walker
  • 9 july 2013

Anyone who has wrestled with an IKEA wardrobe knows that flat-packed structures are not the easiest to assemble. Nowadays you can 3D print a whole product, but if you need it to travel compactly, it needs to be able to be flat-packed. Researchers at MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a series of flat objects that can build themselves when they are stimulated with an electrical current.

The structures are made out of shape memory polymers (that have been printed) and have joints that are covered with a conductive coating. When a jolt of electricity runs through, the shape memory polymers begins to go back into its original shape. Printing the shapes and the self-folding means that less labor is involved in creating complicated geometric structures.

The scientists explain in an academic article published in Soft Matter:

Origami-inspired manufacturing can produce complex structures and machines by folding two-dimensional composites into three-dimensional structures.This fabrication technique is potentially less expensive, faster, and easier to transport than more traditional machining methods, including 3-D printing. Its functionality and low cost make it an ideal basis for a new type of printable manufacturing based on two-dimensional fabrication techniques.

Watch the video below to see 2D objects make themselves 3D:

Soft Matter


Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Brand Development Today

Swipe Left On A Dating World Built To Keep You Single And Disconnected

Hinge's VP of Marketing Karen Fein tells us about the service's daring ditch of the swiping culture that's designed to attract advertising revenue, not meaningful connections

Arts & Culture Today

Marvel Comic Tells The Story Of A Heroic Syrian Mother

Madaya Mom is the true tale of a family trapped inside a town for over a year


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail Today

Brooklyn Cafe Lets Customers Pay By The Hour, Not By The Cup

Glasshour is an establishment that provides free coffee and pastries and charges for the time guests spend there

Technology Today

Electric Spoon Changes The Way Food Tastes

The Taste Buddy is being developed to manipulate your taste buds and make everything more delicious

Related Expert

Gunther Sonnenfeld

Social Listener, Multi-Platform Storyteller

Travel Today

Bike Path In Poland Can Glow For 20 Years Using Solar Power

Cyclists can follow the shimmering blue lanes for better safety each time they ride

Technology Today

Open-Source Toolkit Lets Communities Build Their Own Street Furniture

The Wikiblock database contains 30 blueprints of different neighborhood fixtures including benches, bus stops, and kiosks

Food Today

Tiny Pub Only Has Space For Three People

Make Time For It is a small London pop-up bar that encourages conversation without the distraction of technology


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Community Builder: How to Hack Slack

Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid, describes how she's using an internal team communication tool to build a network of thousands

PSFK Labs october 21, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Advertising Today

This Beer Was Brewed Just For Scotch Drinkers

Highland Park Scotch Whisky & Sixpoint Brewery have teamed up to create two limited-edition pairings for New York City boilermakers

Mobile Today

Let An AI Librarian Help Sort Your Digital Bookmarks

A new app uses machine learning to help organize your virtual life

Mobile Today

Pizza Hut Tattoo Lets You Place An Order From Your Body

The latest gimmick from the fast-food chain is a tattoo-like sticker that lets customers get delivery with a simple tap on their arm

Travel Today

Reinvented Bicycle Inspired By Supercar Design

The yellow bike based on a Lamborghini has sharp edges and an aluminum alloy frame

Health Today

Health Platform Gives Perspective On Your Weekly Habits

Gyroscope is a new wellness app that works by amalgamating data about your life into beautifully designed visuals

Beauty Today

Korean Beauty Brand Uses VR To Let Customers Pick Their Ingredients

Innisfree created a unique experience for its Shanghai Disneyland customers with a virtual reality trip to select what goes into their purchase

Arts & Culture Today

3D-Printed Creations Resemble Floating Paper Outlines

Japanese design firm Nendo's exhibition features works that look like sheets of material being folded, torn, and crumpled

Technology october 21, 2016

Concept Camera Designed To Only Take Unique Photos

Camera Restricta is tool that prompts photographers to only capture one-of-a-kind images

No search results found.