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Liquid Printed Pneumatics: 3D printing stretchy silicone structures

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Imagine 3D printing a balloon of sorts, a stretchy material that can expand or contract with the air that’s pumped into it. MIT’s Self-Assembly Laboratory, in collaboration with BMW, has developed a new way to print silicone into inflatable chambers of all shapes, sizes, functions, and levels of stiffness. They go from flat to fully expanded complex structures. The Dezeen video above shows how it’s printed and inflated.

From Dezeen:

The German auto brand wanted to see how the lab’s experimental engineering techniques could help it realise some of the shapeshifting features imagined in its futuristic concept cars… Potentially, the same technology could help to create a more dynamic interior, where seats sink away when not needed, or the dashboard can change shape. This is of interest to automakers because if cars go fully autonomous, it could free up space for passengers to enjoy a range of activities while they travel.

The technology can be used for endless other applications, as well. The project will be showcased at the V&A’s The Future Starts Here in London until November 2018: “From smart appliances to satellites, artificial intelligence to internet culture, this exhibition brings together more than 100 objects as a landscape of possibilities for the near future.”

Next: 3D-printed Metamaterial Mechanisms, Inflatable stick-on pouch motors, Dancing Paper, 8bit Harmonica, and Musical Umbrella by Ugoita, an origami-inspired model for reconfigurable materials, and a soft-bodied robot that uses camouflage.

Also at the V&A: The Exhale Bionic Chandelier.

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