Floreo is meant to be an interactive experience involving technology, fashion, and design concepts. The initial goal of the project was to create a wearable and aesthetically appealing dress that incorporates the use of flexinol – a muscle memory alloy. When heated, flexinol can bend in an innumerable amount of ways. Alicia and Jerika researched, experimented, and implemented flexinol to work in accordance with fabric. Their journey is still in progress as they aspire to make their dress a reality as well as educate people on the potential uses of flexinol.
The journey started with the idea to create a fashionable yet technological dress that would inspire other women to create their own unique pieces while also learning about the technology behind it. After researching, Alicia and Jerika decided to challenge themselves by learning how to use and manipulate flexinol. They were inspired by MIT’s High-Low Tech Group, which has created multiple projects using the muscle memory alloy.
They chose to build a flower design that would incorporate the embedded flexinol, which would allow the petals to rise and fall when voltage was applied. The goal was to allow a user to shine a light on the flower, which would come to life by actuating a light sensor that would send voltage to the flexinol.
In order to assemble the petals, Alicia and Jerika soldered around 32 pieces of 1-1.5″ cut flexinol to conductive beads. In order to do so efficiently, they both had to divide the work and use wire cutters to clamp or flatten the conductive beads to the ends of the flexinol. The next step involved soldering the conductive beads to miniature square pieces of copper tape.
After soldering their next task was to laser cut the petals. This was a suggestion made by their professor, David Tinapple, in order to quickly cut the petals with a clean, cauterized finish. Test petals were also cut in order to visualize the flexinol connected to fabric. Alicia handled the sewing of the flexinol into the laser cut fabric.
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