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New approach to shape-programming materials – potential applications in soft robotics and wearable devices

11 February 2022

Fish and Grips

There may be easier ways to take a fish out of water, but this little ‘gripper’ demonstrates how gentle it could be in trickier situations. The design is inspired by kirigami – the Japanese art of making tiny cuts in 2D surface which then 'pop-up' into 3D structures. But here researchers applied a mathematical formula to predict how curves behave when taken into the third dimension. They can now design in reverse, planning the overall 3D shape then working out what kirigami cuts are needed. This soft gripper (made from thin plastic) has also been put to the test transporting egg yolks and human hairs – similar devices may one day be used in laboratories and operating theatres, or perhaps to make wearable devices, shaped to the body to monitor or administer drugs.

Written by John Ankers

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