MIT’s Inflatable Origami Material Makes For Futuristic Bubble Wrap
A design team has developed structures that can fold, curl or twist at will, according to preprogramed and predetermined specifications
An aeroMorph is an inflatable structure that is ‘programmed’ through robotic-assisted sealing methods to transform into a pre-determined geometry. It’s similar to how origami works, except the material expands to become a specific shape, such as a paper crane, ‘on its own.’ The aeroMorph was created by students at MIT’s Tangible Media Group, the same group behind the bioLogic, a synthetic bioskin regulating a wearer’s heat and sweat by opening and closing a series flaps woven into its form.
An aeroMorph is made by using a custom software tool to seal paper, plastics or various fabrics in a way that lets them bend into particular shapes and forms when inflated. The software shows how the pattern will inflate—whether it will curl, twist or fold—allowing the operator to customize where they’d like the stream of air to be dispersed.
When completed the file is sent to a CNC prototyping machine where, similar to a sewing machine, the pockets of air are defined on the material.
Once finished, the material will fill with air and inflate to mirror the shape and design made using the software tool.
In terms of fashion, an inflated aeroMorph could wrap around a person in a way that becomes defined by their body shape, making for a far more precise fit. A travel pack could change its shape and size based on the contents a person might need to take with them on a trip.
The shipping industry could stand to benefit the most from this innovation. Presently, objects or products are protected using packing peanuts or air cushions, packing material that are uniform in their shape and so stuffed in areas to surround an object, resulting in a wasteful and imprecise method of shipping prep.