Jun 28, 2017 | By Julia

A group of Austrian computer scientists associated with of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST) are pioneering the development of self-actuating free-form objects: flat 2D templates that, upon release, transform themselves into a 3D version.

Aptly dubbed “CurveUps,” the innovation was created by Ruslan Guseinov, Eder Miguel, and Bernd Bickel, and builds on the growing research trend of self-actuating objects. These flat materials transform themselves through material forces, of their own volition, into a desired 3D object. Up until now, the range of self-actuating objects was bound to versions with sharp edges and limited curvature. Transformation methods have primarily been based on folding processes revolving around chemical reactions or inflation, methods which can be imprecise and tricky to control. These were the starting points for the IST-based team, who sought to improve the current research.

“I experimented with so many different materials and methods before coming up with our current design," says first author Ruslan Guseinov. It’s already challenging enough to achieve a final 3D object that’s mechanically stable, but add in the fact that the team developed a controllable mechanism to accomplish this, and their feat is all the more impressive.

CurveUps are comprised of tiny tiles sandwiched between latex layers that are pre-stretched. As the 2D object begins to self-actuate, the tension in the latex pulls the tiles promptly together, effectively joining them into a continuous shell.  

Much of the team’s research thus focused on developing the tools actually needed to create the 2D templates, an area that has remained previously underdeveloped. In this case, the CurveUps initiative takes a user-supplied 3D form or object, which then automatically generates a 2D tile layout, including the object orientation, and the location and shape of each tile and its connective pins. Because each model contains countless individual tiles (some range up into the thousands), the developers implemented a multi-part optimization procedure: first, an approximate solution is given; then local refinements are performed; finally a complete template is produced.

3D printing has figured heavily into the entire project, say team members. “Our research is a step toward the development of new fabrication technologies: there have been many advances in flat fabrication, for instance in electronics, that have previously been limited to 2D shapes," Ruslan Guseinov explains. "With CurveUps, we make it possible to produce 3D objects empowered with these same technologies, pushing the limits of digital manufacturing far beyond the current state."

Bern Bickel adds, "There is a great deal of knowledge in terms of 2D printing technology, and we connect these capabilities with those of 3D objects. This is an extremely exciting area of 3D printing research, and the group is actively working to expand the possibilities even further."

Watch the entire process, from initial 3D model to a finalized CurveUp in the video below.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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