When most people think of the word elasticity, aluminum and titanium don’t come to mind. However, these materials along with other composites can be used to make mechanical structures strong and flexible at the same time. Examples in nature, like an elephant trunk or an octopus leg, demonstrate how versatile and efficient soft structures can be. Flexible mechanical structures require fewer parts, which reduces the chance for pieces to break and things to go wrong. They are lighter, less complex and minimize the assembly process. From windshield wipers to airplane wings and soft robots, engineers are already demonstrating the benefits of engineering with elasticity.
About the Professor
Sridhar Kota is a Herrick Professor of Manufacturing Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. His research interests include Bio-inspired engineering design. Topology, size and shape optimization of complaint mechanisms – product design for no-assembly, adaptive structures and MEMS. Electromechanical systems design, design for manufacturability. Public policy and advanced manufacturing.