Computational Design of Self-Actuated Surfaces by Printing Plastic Ribbons on Stretched Fabric
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Computational Design of Self-Actuated Surfaces by Printing Plastic Ribbons on Stretched Fabric

Computer Graphics Forum, Volume 41, Number 2 - April 2022
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We introduce a new mechanism for self-actuating deployable structures, based on printing a dense pattern of closely-spaced plastic ribbons on sheets of pre-stretched elastic fabric. We leverage two shape-changing effects that occur when such an assembly is printed and allowed to relax: first, the incompressible plastic ribbons frustrate the contraction of the fabric back to its rest state, forcing residual strain in the fabric and creating intrinsic curvature. Second, the differential compression at the interface between the plastic and fabric layers yields a bilayer effect in the direction of the ribbons, making each ribbon buckle into an arc at equilibrium state and creating extrinsic curvature. We describe an inverse design tool to fabricate low-cost, lightweight prototypes of freeform surfaces using the controllable directional distortion and curvature offered by this mechanism. The core of our method is a parameterization algorithm that bounds surface distortions along and across principal curvature directions, along with a pattern synthesis algorithm that covers a surface with ribbons to match the target distortions and curvature given by the aforementioned parameterization. We demonstrate the flexibility and accuracy of our method by fabricating and measuring a variety of surfaces, including nearly-developable surfaces as well as surfaces with positive and negative mean curvature, which we achieve thanks to a simple hardware setup that allows printing on both sides of the fabric.

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See also

Acknowledgements and Funding

We thank Emilie Yu for help with scanning our fabricated models and editing the supplemental video. We also thank the developers of the open source libraries libigl, Geometry Central and Polyscope that we used for geometry processing and visualization. This work was supported by the ERC Starting Grant D3 (ERC-2016-STG 714221), the US National Science Foundation (IIS-1910274), and research and software donations from Adobe.

BibTex references

  author       = "Jourdan, David and Skouras, Melina and Vouga, Etienne and Bousseau, Adrien",
  title        = "Computational Design of Self-Actuated Surfaces by Printing Plastic Ribbons on Stretched Fabric",
  journal      = "Computer Graphics Forum",
  number       = "2",
  volume       = "41",
  month        = "April",
  year         = "2022",
  keywords     = "fabrication, parameterization, inverse design, self-actuation, printing on fabric",
  url          = ""

Other publications in the database

» David Jourdan
» Melina Skouras
» Etienne Vouga
» Adrien Bousseau