Bio-based and Bio-inspired 3D-printed Shape-changing Material Systems

Shape-changing materials are able to change their shape under the influence of external stimuli such as heat, magnetic fields, electrical voltages, humidity, and light. In contrast to shape memory materials which can regain their original shape after being deformed by an external force, shape changing materials change their shape continuously in response to the stimuli; enabling them to act simultaneously as sensor, actuator and controller.

With the increasing demand for energy efficiency and ecological sustainability, shape-changing materials offer a novel approach to incorporating functionalities into a component. The advantages of these systems result from saving external energy sources; as well as eliminating error-prone elector-mechanical components such as sensors and controllers, which is due to the functional integration in the material system itself. The resulting structures are lighter and low-maintenance, consume less or no energy at all, and are easier to assemble. These properties make shape-changing material systems ideal candidates for applications such as zero-energy or passive houses and electric vehicles.

In the scope of this project, The Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Plastics Technology (IKT) at the University of Stuttgart are collaborating to develop new bio-based shape-changing materials that are reactive to the heat and/or humidity. These new materials are based on bio-plastics, which makes them particularly interesting in terms of economy, sustainability, and recyclability. Developing these material systems can pave the way for large-scale and mass-producible environmental friendly application of shape-changing material systems.


ICD Institute for Computational Design and Construction, University of Stuttgart
Yasaman Tahouni, Tiffany Cheng, Prof. A. Menges

IKT Institute of Plastics Technology, University of Stuttgart
Silvia Kleim, Prof. Dr. C. Bonten



Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe (FNR)