Contacts: Dr. Keith Seffen, Engineering
Mentor: Martin Sabry

Dr Seffen and his team have spent many years investigating the manufacture and operation of bistable and multi-stable structures. They are now able to create a novel class of bistable structures which can be used as single-piece hinges and fine-tuned to meet the requirements of a particular real-world application.

Thin metal sheets are manufactured which can be changed between a stable, substantially planar configuration (a flat sheet) to a stable rolled-up or curled configuration. This enables the production of hard-wearing hinges from a single sheet of metal. These single-piece hinges have no moving parts and need no assembly. The manufacturing process also makes the planar configuration much more rigid than the original flat sheet. Very little force is required to move the material from one configuration (hinge open) to the other (hinge closed). In addition, the hinge is rigid in its two configurations, allowing a certain angle of opening to be maintained without any additional power being needed.

Traditional two-piece rotating hinges have been used for centuries in a vast number of different applications, at a range of different sizes. The challenge for the i-Team is to investigate the applications which would benefit from this new single-piece structure, replacing the familiar hinge with a novel and attractive new component.