Researchers at North Carolina State University discovered a simple way to transform 2D patterns into 3D objects using light. The unique but simple technique utilizes pre-stressed polymer sheet (polystyrene) printed with bold black lines using a conventional inkjet printer. As it turns out, these bold black lines will absorb more energy upon exposure to a light source such as infrared (or a heat lamp) and will subsequently cause the plastic to contract. The deformation along the black line creates a hinge that folds the sheets into 3D objects.
This unusual approach in creating objects using existing materials and equipment may one day see practical use. According to Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State, "This is a novel application of existing materials, and has potential for rapid, high-volume manufacturing processes or packaging applications".
Here's a video demonstrating this amazing yet simple idea.
Source : NCSU Newsroom