researchers develop tunable material capable of changing size, volume and shape
all images courtesy of bertoldi lab/harvard SEAS




harvard researchers at john a. paulson school of engineering and applied sciences have developed a new type of foldable material that is tunable and self-actuated. capable of changing size, volume and shape, it can withstand the weight of an elephant without breaking when folded flat.


video courtesy of harvard 




led by professor katia bertoldi, the origami structure is made from extruded cubes with 24 faces and 36 edges. the team demonstrated the cube by deforming it into different shapes by folding specific edges. the project uses embedded pneumatic actuators which can be programmed. 





to further showcase the project, engineers connected 64 cells to create a cube that can grow and shrink. it also changes stiffness, meaning it could be very pliable or very stiff using an identical design. the implications of this flexible material could stretch to a variety of different markets including architecture and manufacturing. transformable structures could include portable shelters, adaptive building façades and retractable roofs.