Re: Possible portable and reconfigurable RP models?

From: Marshall Burns (
Date: Sat Aug 29 1998 - 00:50:53 EEST

Monica & Glenn Whiteside wrote:

> [...snip...]
> Using shape memory alloys, such as nitinol, I think this could be feasible.
> You could position and bend the model where you need it, being able to
> selectively cool (contract) and/or heat (expand) different sections of the
> model until the desired configuration was obtained, then scan it to
> electronically capture the configuration, then, when done, allow it to
> uniformly cool to return it to its original shape for reuse.

> Anybody done any research or investigation along these lines?


    This is a really interesting subject. Smart materials are an active field of
research, but there hasn't been much interaction with the fabricator industry
yet. In 1994 I wrote an article for Rapid Prototyping Report on 21st-century
fabricators and talked briefly about "real-time" fabrication processes that
would use smart materials to allow controlled movement and reconfiguration,
similarly to how we use muscles to reshape our own bodies from moment to moment.
I have just uploaded the article to the Ennex Web site; it can now be found at You
might find it interesting.

Best regards,
Marshall Burns

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