MIT scientists made a shape-shifting material that morphs into a human face

MIT scientists made a shape-shifting material that morphs into a human face

by Jennifer Ouellette, ARSTechnica

New method based on double-curvature effect described by Gauss nearly 200 years ago.

The next big thing in 3D printing just might be so-called “4D materials” that employ the same manufacturing technique but are designed to deform over time in response to changes in the environment, like humidity and temperature. They’re also sometimes known as active origami or shape-morphing systems. MIT scientists successfully created flat structures that can transform into much more complicated structures than had previously been achieved, including a human face. They published their results last fall in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Prior researchers had successfully come up with ways to get such materials to shape-shift into simple structures. MIT mechanical engineer Wim van Rees, a co-author of the PNAS paper, devised a theoretical method to turn a thin, flat sheet into more complex shapes, like spheres, domes, or a human face. “My goal was to start with a complex 3-D shape that we want to achieve, like a human face, and then ask, ‘How do we program a material so it gets there?'” he said. “That’s a problem of inverse design.”

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