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William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Shape Shifting plastic materials.
William K.   8/17/2011 12:54:03 PM
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I have had my fill of shape shifting plastic materials that deform when they spend an afternoon in a closed car in the sun. The shapes always shift to a point where the product is no longer useable. Other items lose their shape when they go through the dishwasher. I even have coffee mugs that change the shape of the inside portionj so that they hold less beverage than when they were new.

But shape-changing materials that provide a benefit are an interesting thing, and I would like to see a writeup of some commercial applcation of this product.

Greg Stirling
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Shape-Shifting Materials Are Packages of Future
Greg Stirling   8/17/2011 12:52:28 PM
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Batterys sold seperately.

According to my calculations TJ, the shape shifting is Electrically actuated, as opposed to thermally actuated.  

So there may be an unintended consequence for Electricians and folks in electric chairs... 

Corey
User Rank
Iron
Shape Memory Plastic
Corey   8/16/2011 11:41:15 PM
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I have been making shape memory materials available to the public for 5 years. These are real materials not the fantasy stuff written by science fiction writers. Go to www.bendableplastic.com

Peratflexibilityenvelopecom
User Rank
Iron
The robotic version of this is called self-reconfiguring modular robotics (SRCMR).
Peratflexibilityenvelopecom   8/16/2011 7:15:02 PM
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The robotic version of this is usually called self-reconfiguring modular robotics (SRCMR). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-reconfiguring_modular_robot

The prototypes Jason shows in the video are called Catoms and are part of the Claytronics project http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~claytronics/

The robotic version of this is much closer to market. With a healthy dose of imagination one could even say that one half, the second one, modular robotics is already on the market. This in the form of the Cubelets from Modular Robotics,(http://www.modrobotics.com/). The Cubelets are aimed to be a toy for kids ages 5 and up so they are not that advanced but they illustrate many of the strengths of the concept beautifully. And there is much more to come, and soon!

The robotic approach usually consists of larger units, with a size in the cm-mm range. This makes it much easier to produce and reduces cost significantly. There is even a open source unit intended for Snake robots that can be 3D printed and built for very little money http://bit.ly/oEzFfg

There are many other active research projects that are making good progress on all aspects of this problem, from hardware to software to theoretical background.

I am so excited by the potential SRCMR has that I run a blog and host a podcastfocusing on the area. I include some links if anyone is interested in further information.

My blog www.flexibilityenvelope.com

My podcast http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/series/flexible.html

 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Application questions
Rob Spiegel   8/16/2011 12:05:52 PM
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Beyond robotics, what are some of the other application possibilities here? Would this apply to custom manufacturing -- each peice coming out of manufacturing molded to difference shapes? Also, does the material retain its shape-shifting qualities post-production?

Davi
User Rank
Iron
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Davi   8/16/2011 10:36:45 AM
NO RATINGS
Let's not forget that some very good ideas sit on the shelf until there is a need. Case in point: Corning's Gorilla Glass was developed years ago but there was little need or interest. Now just about every cell phone and tablet computer uses the material and the possibilities are now endless for its use.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: shape-shifting
Alexander Wolfe   8/16/2011 8:13:50 AM
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One angle which I haven't wrapped my brain completely around is that Intel is leading the research here. They're doing it in conjunction with Carnegie-Mellon. The CMU part I understand -- they're a world-class robotics center. With Intel, what would it mean if they end up holding key patents in robotics and materials? It would mean that, unlike most successful huge companies which have failed to have a second act, Intel would indeed have that second act and would be a major player throughout the 21st century. (Not that they wouldn't otherwise, but you get my point. . . )

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Shape-Shifting Materials Are Packages of Future
TJ McDermott   8/15/2011 10:13:57 PM
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Greg, don't forget unintended consequences!  Your first suggestion will have the unintended consequence of being able to tell if a male has a fever without resorting to a thermometer.

sensor pro
User Rank
Gold
Re: Shape-Shifting Materials Are Packages of Future
sensor pro   8/15/2011 2:55:09 PM
NO RATINGS
What is interesting that in a few short remarks readers offered a number of various valid ideas for applications. However, and I restate: HOWEVER none will see the light of day if our govenment continues to waste hard earned money on garbage. I'm waiting untill they wize up and start investing into our industry, and not on education projects in China, cultural projects in Pakistan and many many other worthless projects in countries that wait for us to fail.

 

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: shape-shifting
Beth Stackpole   8/15/2011 2:36:12 PM
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Shaping-shifting materials are indeed a very interesting, but out-there concept. I have to commiserate with @ sensor pro, that it's too bad more of these "out-there" projects won't see the light of day thanks to budget cuts and continuing tough economic times.

I'm not sure this counts as "shape shifting" materials, but I recently read about a project by a Stanford University professor to create a transparent lithium-ion battery, which the professor and his grad student research partner hope will eventually culminate in a transparent iPhone. Let's hope advancements like this and the shape-shifting stuff continue!

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