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NC State researchers turn 2D patterns into 3D objects using light and printer ink

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North Carolina State University researchers have developed a method for having 2D patterns made of plastic self-assemble into 3D objects using a heat lamp and printer ink.

2D to 3D
2D to 3D

The most fun science experiments seem to be ones that you can replicate in your own home. For those would-be scientists, North Carolina State University researchers have developed a way to get 2D patterns to self-assemble into 3D objects using regular household products. The process starts by taking a pre-stressed sheet of plastic (made of Shrinky-Dinks, for additional fun) and printing bold black lines into it, using an ordinary inkjet printer. The plastic is then cut into an appropriate shape and put under a heat lamp. Since the black lines absorb more energy, the plastic folds along those lines, with wider lines causing a farther fold. With properly placed lines and the right shape of plastic, the 2D pattern can fold into cubes, pyramids, or whatever you can think of. While this research could prove to be groundbreaking in the field of origami, Dr. Michael Dickey, co-author of the paper describing this research, claims the process "has potential for rapid, high-volume manufacturing processes or packaging applications." Video of the action below.