Filling something with air is a useful way of transforming an object—provided you can do so precisely. We see it in something as simple as a balloon or even the airbag in your car. The students at MIT’s Tangible Media Group have created Aeromorphs, a new technology that creates origami-like inflatables that can transform in unique ways when filled with air, opening the door to new kinds of toys, wearables, packaging methods, safety systems, and much more.
With Aeromorphs, PhD student Jifei Ou and the rest of his team at the Tangible Media Group have created a way of programming papers, plastics, and fabrics. With the use of a custom tool that lets you create patterns based on the inflated shape, Aeromorphs takes the exported file and converts it to prototyping machine fit with a custom heat-sealing head, which creates the necessary pockets of air across the material a bit like a sewing machine makes stitches. When inflated pneumatically, the fabric or material deforms into a predictable shape, as dictated by the team’s software.
Aeromorphs has plenty of technical potential. From a practical perspective, packaging could be revolutionized by Aeromorphs, for the simple reason that the industry could design light, thin airbags that easily wrap around a product to protect it when inflated, further streamlining the shipping process in factories. Similarly, it’s easy to see how this sort of approach could be used by automakers to create a new generation of safer airbags.
via Fast Co. Design