Revolutionary Technology? MIT Researchers Working On 3D Printed Morphable Materials…

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Wood and carbon fiber have always been relatively boring materials when it comes to their ability to change shape… Neither material is known for bending unless exposed to harsh weather or something goes terribly wrong. Until now…

MIT researchers have developed wood and carbon fiber capable of bending and curling, with a long-term goal of self-assembling materials such as furniture that takes shape right out of the package.

The team at MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab have been working hard to 3D print materials capable of morphing into pre-programmable shapes when exposed to heat or water.

Think of it as carbon fiber that will automatically take a pre-programmed shape when heat treated or wood that curls exactly as you want it as it dries. Traditionally, bending wood is an extremely tedious process that consists of a combination of steaming, soaking, and pressure-treating.

An example is the elephant below:

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Perhaps the material with the most potential for a wide range of applications is morphable carbon fiber.

Skylar Tibbits, the director of the Self-Assembly Lab, recently chatted with Wired UK and said that the morphable carbon fiber would be used in something like car airfoils that change shape with the weather or jet engines with parts that change shape with heat.

While this technology is still in its early stages, the possibilities of programmable materials are very enticing and exciting to ponder.

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