We describe how sheets of metalized mylar can be cut and then “inflated” into complex 3D forms with electrostatic charge for use in digitally-controlled, shape-changing displays. This is achieved by placing and nesting various cuts, slits and holes such that mylar elements repel from one another to reach an equilibrium state. Importantly, our technique is compatible with industrial and hobbyist cutting processes, from die and laser cutting to handheld exacto knives and scissors. Given that mylar film costs <$1 per m2, we can create self-actuating 3D objects for just a few cents, opening new uses in low-cost consumer goods. We describe a design vocabulary, interactive simulation tool, fabrication guide, and proof-of-concept electrostatic actuation hardware. We detail our technique’s performance metrics along with qualitative feedback from a design study. We present numerous examples generated using our pipeline to illustrate the rich creative potential of our method.
Cathy Mengying Fang, Jianzhe Gu, Lining Yao, and Chris Harrison. 2022. ElectriPop: Low-Cost, Shape-Changing Displays Using Electrostatically Inflated Mylar Sheets. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 261, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1145/3491102.3501837