Deployable Programmable Surface

Deployable structures are physical mechanisms that can easily transition between two or more geometric configurations; such structures enable industrial, scientific, and consumer applications at a wide variety of scales. In This video by LGG EPFL you can see the development of novel deployable structures that can approximate a large class of doubly-curved surfaces and are easily actuated from a flat initial state via inflation or gravitational loading.

The structures are based on two-dimensional rigid mechanical linkages that implicitly encode the curvature of the target shape via a user-programmable pattern that permits locally isotropic scaling under load. Designers explicitly characterize the shapes that can be realized by such structures—in particular, they show that these structures can approximate target surfaces of positive mean curvature and bounded scale distortion relative to a given reference domain.

Based on this observation, they develop efficient computational design algorithms for approximating a given input geometry. The resulting designs can be rapidly manufactured via digital fabrication technologies such as laser cutting, CNC milling, or 3D printing. Designers validate their approach through a series of physical prototypes and present several application case studies, ranging from surgical implants to large-scale deployable architecture.

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