Malleable Morphing Materials

Claytronics is a conceptual cross-section between nanotechnology and programmable robotics. Add in 3D printing and we’re talking about using digital processing to create programmable materials that can change form.

Create Anything You Want With Programmable Matter

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What if you could fax someone a real, three-dimensional object? The solution might come in the form of programmable matter – a material that takes on predetermined shapes and can change its configuration on demand. We’re already seeing early prototypes coming from Carnegie Mellon and Intel in the form of “claytronics.” So what’s in store for this technology, and why should we be excited about it?

Make Your Own World With Programmable Matter – []

Such a capability could change society even more profoundly than the Internet has. If this magical morphable matter were cheap and effective, it would allow us to send and download copies of objects as easily as we do digital documents. We could duplicate an object and then reshape it to our whims. Even if the technology turns out to be too expensive or the objects too fragile to replace conventionally manufactured goods, it might still allow people to summon up a facsimile of the thing they desire long enough to test it out, try it on, redesign it, or be entertained by it—with no more effort than it now takes to view a digital movie or play an MP3 file.

But do such wild notions bear any relation to what might actually be possible over, say, the next 50 years? To get a sense of the answer, it’s helpful first to look back a quarter century or so to the roots of this audacious concept.

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