Structural textiles: adaptive form and surface in three-dimensions

From the RCA website. Research proposal by Rachel Phillpot: Structural Textiles: adaptive form and surface in three-dimensions.

This empirical research takes a textile perspective to explore structure, functionality and aesthetic, using interdisciplinary technologies and materials.

3D knit and weave are established technologies used to impart three-dimensional properties to textiles. This project describes a different approach using a novel system, based on origami folding coupled with additive and subtractive printing techniques to create self-supporting, deployable structures that are adaptable, multi-dimensional and potentially reactive to external stimuli, e.g. heat, light or electricity.

Adjustment of boundary tension of such structures causes the textile to deploy from a flat “packed” state to a complex 3D structure in which structural integrity is provided by the printed and folded areas. Consequently, this enables physical properties of the substrate to be varied, e.g. object volume, light transmission and thermal insulation. Such deployable and adaptive structures have wide applications in situations where permanent and semi-permanent reusable structures are required and in micro and macro scales. The project explores functional, sustainable design, emphasising customisability and firstly addresses:

  • Generic principles underlying possible folding patterns and development of alternative patterns.
  • The feasibility of particular applications in the context of a selection of existing and emerging industrial techniques and materials, such as embedded electronic technologies, together with traditional printing and fabric manipulation techniques.

Followed by:

  • The modelling and critical examination of one select example application in terms of folding patterns, materials, production techniques and functionality.

Effects of folding patterns on the resulting three-dimensional structures will be examined through construction of physical samples, computer based design and visualisation techniques. The feasibility study and detailed work on the chosen application will draw upon established collaboration with select research groups in areas such as architecture, materials science, industrial design and engineering.

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