Scientists have developed a new high-tech 3D printer that can produce self-folding materials. A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have prepared this cheap 3-D printer that can efficiently produce self-folding materials. The printer produces flat plastic parts, and when heated, these plastic parts fold into predetermined shapes such as rose boats, etc.
According to scientists, these self-folding plastic objects are a first step in producing products such as flat-pack furniture using a heat gun reach their final form. Also, the shelters can be shipped flat and folded depending on the required under the heat of the sun. Scientists say that the self-folding materials are cheaper and faster to produce than the solid 3-D objects and they are used for different purposes. These can be used to make prototypes of solid structures. The self-folding materials can also be used to make forms for boat hulls as well as other fiberglass products at a very low cost.
Lining Yao, assistant professor at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and director of Morphing Matter Labs, said, "We wanted to see how self-organization can be made more democratic for many users." In the past, many scientists also prepared self-folding materials, but the technology they used was highly developed and the materials were also expensive. But Yao and her team prepared self-folding materials using a low-cost 3-D printer known as the FDM printer, and took advantage of its default. Yao said people hate arrears, but their team took this disadvantage and presented it to their advantage.
To produce self-folding objects, the researchers first controlled this delay of FDM printers by changing the speed, with which the thermoplastic material is deposited. They combined the hazardous materials with the rubbery materials to resist the contracture. The materials came as flat and hard plastic from the 3D printer. Then the scientists put the plastic in hot water to make it soft and rubbery. Then they created a unique code that automatically calculated the printing speed and patterns needed to reach certain folding angles, and finally, the self-folding materials were made. Byoungkwon An, a research institute in HCII, said, "The software is based on a new curve convolution theory that represents band-curved band movements."