The latest kirigami-inspired engineering materials are also works of art

By Andrew Paul

The ancient Japanese art of paper folding and cutting known as kirigami has increasingly inspired a new generation of engineering materials, resulting in strikingly beautiful and resilient designs. The latest iteration, courtesy of researchers at MIT, adds attributes found in both honeycomb and human bones to further strengthen advanced architectural materials, as well as potentially boost the resilience of certain airplanes, spacecraft, and robots.

As detailed in a new paper to be presented at American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ upcoming Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, the team at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) developed a novel method to manufacture plate lattices—high-performance materials useful in automotive and aerospace designs. “This material is like steel cork. It is lighter than cork, but with high strength and high stiffness,” explains Neil Gershefeld, the paper’s senior author and lead researcher at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA).

Related Content