Harvard University develops programmable balloon inspired by origami art

Inspired by the art of Origami origami in Japan, a team of researchers at Harvard University came up with the idea of developing a “programmable balloon” that features amazing shapes when inflated. In addition to the technology, researchers at the John Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) also hope the platform will be used in the production of new medical devices and on actuators for software robots.

Harvard University develops programmable balloon inspired by origami art

(From: Harvard University)

The team found that, drawing on Japan’s Kirigami origami orion skills, they could develop materials that shape balloons in different shapes, specifically “pixels” that form images on 2D surfaces.

When the balloon is inflated, the incision causes the balloon to stretch more in some places and shrink slightly in others, giving the highly controllable inflator some rather irregular shapes.

The paper’s co-author, Antonio Elia Forte, says that by changing the parameters of two ‘pixels’, all the different shapes can be programmed into the Kirigami balloon, including bending, twisting and swelling.

The strategy is to produce balloons that shape the shape that the user wants, which is a bottom-up approach. In addition to kinematics, the properties of materials are also utilized.

The SEAS team has also developed an algorithm that can be easily programmed to create the desired shape, and then has a machine to determine the necessary pixel size and drawing design.

SEAS researchers developed a kirigami balloon (via)

“By controlling the expansion of the Kirigami balloon at all levels, we can reproduce the various target shapes,” adds Jinhuai Jin, a paper. During the test, the team has programmed the shape of pumpkins, hooks, vases, etc.

Looking ahead, the researchers hope the method could be used in surgical instruments and space exploration. Early in the study, however, they focused on the variable actuators of software robots.

Details of the study have been published in the recently published journal Advanced Materials.

Originally titled “Kirigami-Inspired Siennas with Programmable Shapes.”