Materialica Design + Technology Gold Award 2018

The Flexafold – a bio-inspired graded fibre-composite structure with integrated pneumatic actuation won the MATERIALICA Design + Technology Gold Award 2018 in the Category Material. The MATERIALICA award honours outstanding research in the field of material science, engineering and design.


An interdisciplinary research team, succeeded in producing a bio-inspired, fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) with innovative, integrated actuators. Cost-effective, lightweight cushions are embedded already during the manufacturing process in locally defined compliant hinge zones. Due to the asymmetric layer structure of the FRP, filling the cavity (cushion) creates a closing folding movement. The reverse movement occurs as within the biological model – insect wings – due to the stored energy. Mechanical joints are no longer needed and material usage as well as number of sensitive parts prone to failure is reduced significantly. This allows the development of sustainable, low-maintenance, adaptive systems with high design potential.

More information:



Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE),
University of Stuttgart, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Knippers
Gundula Schieber, Anja Mader, Axel Körner

Institute for Textile and Fiber Technologies (ITFT),
University of Stuttgart, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Götz T. Gresser
Larissa Born

German Institutes for Textile and Fiber Research (DITF),
Department Composites, Braiding Technology, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Milwich
Lena Müller

Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE),
University of Tübingen, Prof. Dr. Oliver Betz
Paavo Bergmann

The research has been funded by the Baden-Württemberg foundation as part of the project BIAG “Bio-inspired adaptive facade shading systems”

Patent DE 102018103175.5