Developable Metamaterials

Madlaina Signer, Alexandra Ion, Olga Sorkine-Hornung

Mass-fabricable Metamaterials by Laser-Cutting Elastic Structures.

We propose a novel design of engineered, structured materials that leverages fast fabrication technologies, pushing them towards mass-fabrication. Specifically, our metamaterial is designed to be laser cut, to approximate the volumetric shape and allow for locally varying compliance. Traditional mechanical metamaterials consist of intricate cells arranged on a 3-dimensional grid, limiting them to 3D printing---which is slow. Our metamaterial is designed for laser cutting, which is drastically faster. Our structures are best described as ruffled strips of thin sheet material, such as paper, plastics, metals, etc. Users can interactively define the ruffles’ anisotropic stiffness directions and local density. Our computational design tool assists users by automatically optimizing the ruffle to fill the shape’s volume, and exporting the flat ruffle design ready for cutting. We demonstrate how such ruffled metamaterials can be utilized for, e.g., custom toys with locally varying compliance, custom packaging material, or lightweight formwork for architectural shells.


Madlaina Signer, Alexandra Ion, Olga Sorkine-Hornung. . Developable Metamaterials: Mass-fabricable Metamaterials by Laser-Cutting Elastic Structures. In Proceedings of CHI ’21. Virtual conference (formerly Yokohama, Japan). May 8 – 13, 2021. DOI:

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