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Obedient plastic: Chair, moulds to you!

Delft University Of Technology : 23 November, 2006  (Technical Article)
An airplane wing that changes shape during flight, a section of the floor that on command changes shape and becomes a chair, and a surfboard that adapts to the desires of the user. These are the research ideas that have been rewarded with a
Wings that on command can change their shape (morphing wings) are the Holy Grail of the aircraft industry. At present, wings can only change shape by sliding or rotating a section of the wing. Morphing wings would render these mechanisms obsolete and also perform better. Moreover, morphing wings require less maintenance and are more reliable.

Philip Poppe, an MSC student at TU Delft's Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, will research the possibility of using thermoplastic materials as the basis for a deformable wing. Thermoplastic materials deform under the influence of heat. Through the clever placement of 'electric sheets', the material, at the push of a button, can bend and then return to its original form.

Charlotte Lelieveld, an architect graduate of TU Delft, will use a memory material to design an 'intelligent living room' that meets the desires of the resident. Under the influence of light or temperature, the memory material deforms and later returns to its original shape. In order to give the deformed material the desired shape, Charlotte will use artificial muscles. She hopes to use her research to make a floorboard that, by itself, can form into a chair if the resident stands still on it for a long period of time.

Jan van Kranendonk and Leonard Schürg are enthusiastic surfers and study Industrial Design Engineering. As surfers, they want a surfboard that is made to measure for the individual surfer. Surfboards are only profitable if they can be manufactured in large quantities. The two students therefore began building their own surfboards. To do this, they developed a machine that uses a hot thread to cut surfboards that were designed on a computer and are made of light and durable EPS. The next step in their research to develop the ideal surfboard is to combine and experiment with various materials, such as bamboo, fibreglass and epoxyhars, in order to make a durable surfboard that gives the surfer all the freedom he requires.

The Delft Center for Materials' 'Young Wild Ideas' program encourages TU Delft students and PhD candidates to start on or explore unusual research paths in the materials field. The program awards 10,000 euro to the winning proposals.

The Delft Centre for Materials, one of the thirteen policy spearheads of TU Delft, aims to combine the expertise available within TU Delft in the field of constructive materials
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