Exploring base materials for electroactive polymers:
When things go wrong


DEC 2015

Royal College of Art | ArcInTexETN – Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

* Exhibited at the Royal College of Art Work-in-Progress Show, 2016.

I set out to build Electro Active Polymer modules with an elastic and adhesive acrylic film (3M VHB tape 4910) and carbon powder. When one of the modules broke, I started playing with the material, handling it, touching it… I was fascinated by its extreme elasticity, its soft and smooth surface and the lustre given by the carbon powder.

As I was touching the material, questions concerning alternative ways of using it started piling in my head: How could I take advantage of this stretchiness? Which materials could I combine the VHB tape with? How could I use this tape to build more complex structures? I decided to explore its elastic and adhesive properties and the opportunities these provided for the formation of deployable three-dimensional structures.

I collected a range of materials such as felt, leather, fur, fabric, lace, foam, and plastic nets and films. I formed layered structures by placing pieces of these materials in different arrangements between two sheets of stretched tape. I then coated both sides of the layered structures with the carbon powder.

Once these structures were ready, I removed the fixings that were holding them stretched. This revealed a range of three-dimensional deployable patterns in the samples. These are some of the resulting structures: