Scale-Independent Multi-Stable Structures


Traditional approaches for energy absorption (e.g., for anti-crash and personal protection purposes, such as with automobile bumper beams, large foam deformation, and velocity-dependent viscoelastic properties) are based on the self-destructive plastic deformation of the materials being used. These approaches, however, are expensive, non-adjustable, and non-reusable, thus requiring complete replacement of the materials. Multi-stable structures feature more than one stable equilibrium shape, and may be key to addressing the problems inherent to the above-mentioned approaches.

Invention Description
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed various multi-stable structures consisting of a main body, a plurality of linkage members coupled to the main body, and a plurality of hinges pivotally coupling the linkage members. The resulting structures permit adjustment between two or more stable states. Designs are intended to allow fabrication by soft 3D printing, yet are also scale-independent and thus applicable to both macro- and micro-scales. 

Potential Applications
•  Energy-trapping and impact-absorbing structures
•  Packaging and shipping
•  Soft robotics
•  Morphing vehicular components
•  Nanostructures

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