Wax-coated plastic morphs between soft and stiff

Heat-controlled materials could serve as skeleton for shape-shifting robots

By Meghan Rosen, 16:19 PM July 18, 2014

Future robots may sport a wax coating that allows them to transform from soft and squishy to stiff and strong.

Dipping foam or plastic in molten wax creates structures whose flexibility and strength can be tuned with temperature, researchers report June 30 in Macromolecular Materials and Engineering. The study introduces a novel class of inexpensive materials that can be both floppy and firm, says mechanical engineer Robert Shepherd of Cornell University.

Researchers could one day use the mater...

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