Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for transforming two-dimensional print output into 3-D structures, using nothing but light. A pre-stressed polymer sheet is fed into a conventional inkjet printer, which applies black stripes to areas designed to be used as hinges. The desired pattern is then cut out and subjected to infrared light. The material contracts at the hinges, and the sheet collapses into a predefined 3D structure. Dr. Michael Dickey, who co-authored a paper describing the research, says the process could be used for packaging purposes and could be applied to high-volume manufacturing.
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