Ikea furniture that assembles itself when you add water. 3-D printed, self-lacing McFlys. Modular, single-piece robots that fold like proteins The design possibilities of programmable materials seem limitless, but nothing has done a better job of getting across the beauty of such materials than this video by Dana Zelig, in which 12 plastic sheets which fold and twist themselves, as sinuously as a flatland ballet.
The video is part of Traces, Zelig’s exploration of programmable materials. For her project, Zelig used the Processing programming language to design patterns that she then printed using a simple household printer on one of the oldest programmable materials there is: shrinkable pre-stressed polystyrene sheets, also known as Shrinky Dinks. These patterns worked as skeletons, causing the sheets to deform themselves along hinges formed by black lines, which absorbed heat (and consequently deformed faster) than the white unprinted sections.
In the grand scheme of the programmable materials research done by groups like MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, Zelig’s work isn’t terribly advanced, but the video she produced to show it off does a better job than anything else we’ve seen of hinting at the geometric poetry of the medium. It’s a rendered animation of programmable designs that work in the real world, and that’s wonderful. If the future is filled with materials that can arch, flex, and fold themselves like this, it’ll be an elegant future indeed.
[via Creative Applications]