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Flexible deformable sheet structure

Country of Origin: Italy
Reference Number: TOIT20210421002
Publication Date: 21 April 2021

Summary

A research group from North of Italy has invented a morphable sheet structure which can be flexed, bent and twisted and which shape can be modified, providing a sheet structure with adaptable or programmable shape. This sheet structure can be used for many applications, such as implantable stents, deployable constructions like antennas, solar panels or sails, adaptive skins for organic architecture, soft robots or haptics. They are looking for financial, joint venture and license agreements.

Description

Many technologies, established or emerging, rely on soft and highly deformable structures, more particularly thin sheets, barriers or interfaces, with adaptable and programmable shape. These include deployable structures used in medicine (stents) or space (antennas, solar arrays or sails, etc), which possess ultra-low weight, compact stowage, and which can be remotely assembled into a precise shape. As a matter of fact, the design of devices and structures with adaptable shape is greatly simplified if the shape-morphing principle is embodied in the material that defines the thin sheet. By drawing inspiration from the micro-architecture of the euglenoid pellicle, the research group proposes a new principle to achieve shape-adaptable and programmable thin shells. Specifically, the material architecture they propose consists of a plurality of flexible rod elements closely arranged parallel to each other and free of undergoing relative sliding at their junctions. They are looking for collaborations with industries in aerospace and aviation - environment and construction - architecture and design - healthcare and biomedical sectors. Envisaged collaborations are within  financial, joint venture and licence agreements.

Advantages and Innovations

The innovative morphable sheet structure permits continuous and unlimited actuation by relative sliding of adjacent rod elements;
no tight limits on the magnitude of shape changes or on the achievable shapes; simple design compatible with common additive manufacturing (3D printing); possibility of using rod elements with variable degree of porosity.

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Stage Of Development Comment

The project is being developed by an Italian research center in collaboration with a Spanish research center.

Requested partner

Industries in aerospace and aviation, environment and construction, architecture and design, healthcare and biomedical sectors to achieve shape-adaptable and programmable thin shells in their products. Collaborations are envisaged within financial, joint venture and licence agreements.

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