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flectofold - Bioinspired Kinetic Shading Device

Within in the framework of the Collaborative Research Center SFB-TRR 141: Biological Design and Integrative Structures we developed the first prototype for the flectofold.
The research is supported by the German research directory DFG.

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Until now kinetic and adaptive building systems are mostly utilized by rigid components or flexible membranes, guided along straight translation axis or rotational movements – resulting in geometrical constraints. The flectofold offers an alternative approach by using a compliant mechanism to fold and unfold glass fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) panels. The kinetic mechanism is extracted from the underwater carnivorous plant Aldrovanda vesiculosa which uses curved-line folding to propagate bending deformation of a stiffer middle rib into two lobes, symmetrical connected with living hinges.

The concept of a distinct hinge zone by differentiated material distribution was transferred to technical applications such as a façade shading system.

The element is fabricated as one flat piece, using the Vacuum Assisted Process VAP®. Differentiated bending stiffness within the panel is achieved by locally adapted number of glass fiber fabric layers and fiber orientation within the layup. The closing movement is actuated by an integrated pneumatic actuator which allows accurate and gradual control over the folding. Once the pressure is released the stored elastic energy is used to unfold the panels.

The Felctofold principle is adaptive to a wide range of geometries and allows effective shading for double curved freeform facades.


ITKE Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design – Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Knippers
University of Stuttgart
ITFT Institute for Textile Technology, Fiber Based Materials and Textile Machinery – Prof. Dr.-Ing. Götz Gresser
University of Stuttgart
PBG Plant Biomechanics Group, Botanical Garden – Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck
University of Freiburg
IBB Institute for Structural Mechanics – Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Manfred Bischoff
University of Stuttgart

Scientific Development:
M.Sc. Larissa Born, M.Sc. Axel Körner, M.Sc. Renate Lehmann, M.Eng. Anja Mader, Dr. Simon Poppinga, Dr. Simon Schleicher

Ansprechpartner: Axel Körner, Anja Mader

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