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Out-of-Plane Morphing Mechanism

ID: 2007-26 A surface morphing device that may be placed in, on, or under a surface to dynamically change the shape of that surface.

Principal Investigator: Larry Howell

It can alter its shape to rise above a surface, but since the mechanism is composed of layers of sheet material, it has the ability to fold completely flat and is therefore very compact. Additionally, the flat sheets required to produce it are relatively inexpensive and allow the mechanism to be manufactured using simple operations, with very little assembly required.

Because of these advantages the mechanism may be used in many applications where it is important to save space and cut costs. One embodiment exhibits bi-stability. The flat state and the raised state of the mechanism are both stable equilibrium states, and thus the mechanism does not require energy input to maintain its shape in those positions. Since energy is only required to move between stable states, the mechanism conserves energy. The mechanism may also be easily combined so as to produce an array of morphing mechanisms. This is useful in creating specific patterns of texture or movement.

About the Market:

Because the morphing mechanism is simple and cost-effective to manufacture, and because it conserves space and energy, it is well-suited for application in electronic devices. Electrical actuation of an array of morphing mechanisms would allow new possibilities for button configurations, or for surface texturing. On a cellular phone, for example, surface texturing could be used as a “visual ringtone.” Another key application is reconfigurable user interfaces. Continuing with the cellular phone example, different button configurations could be used depending on the intended use (camera, PDA, etc.)

For more information, contact Spencer Rogers (801-422-3676)

Links and Resources

  1. One Page Summary PDF
  2. Inventor Webpage
  3. Compliant Mechanisms Research Group Webpage