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emv10@psu.edu - Penn State - State College  PA

Shape-changing Smart Materials
Academic research project 
(Work in progress)
Elena Vazquez 
Advisors: Jose Duarte, Benay Gursoy

Smart materials are designed to adapt and transform in response to environmental stimulus, reversibly altering their properties. They can act as sensors, actuators, and regulators at the same time, without the need for any additional energy for mechanical or electronic control. In shape-changing smart materials, a stimulus (i.e. heat, water) causes a strain in the material, thus changing its shape. 
Incorporating shape-changing materials in the design process, however, has several challenges. The unpredictability can give way to unexpected discoveries and emergent material outcomes. As designers, in addition to quantifiable properties that are more suitable for exact simulations, we are interested in sensory aspects that can be discovered through material engagement, such as emergent visual (forms, shapes and textures), and tactile qualities. The question, then, is how to design with this dynamic behavior, and how to have control over it?
In this study, we intend to develop methodologies for designing for shape-change, and propose ways in which a material-based approach can facilitate the knowledge transfer of shape-changing materials into design fields.
As part of this study, we have developed wood-based bio-composite materials by 3D printing with a special wood filament that is humidity-sensitive. We customized the 3D printing protocols in order to explore the shape-changing behavior. 


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