Morphing materials in freeform objects, at the micro- and macro-scales
Morphing two-dimensional sheets into three-dimensional objects is a classical problem in mechanics, mathematics and art, pursued over centuries of human history. Today, the ability to manufacture materials with an almost arbitrary microstructure, architecture and pre-stress distribution opens the door to new approaches for bending sheets into complex forms or actuating complex three-dimensional structures. In this talk, I will discuss recent progress in the design of micro- and macro-scale, nonuniform materials that can bend into freeform objects, in response to environmental stimuli or with simple application of point loads. Engineering the distribution of residual stresses, stiffness gradients and/or cut patterns, we control the sheets’ buckling at both local and global scales. The designed distribution of responsive materials in the sheets provides a time dependent control of the developing shapes. Programming 2D sheets into rigid, 3D geometries expands the potential of existing manufacturing tools for efficient and versatile production of 3D objects and may allow the creation of autonomous soft robots.