Air Reinforced Structure (2015)

Air is ubiquitous. Though it is not visually perceived, it can be felt in various senses. In traditional realm of senses, it can be touched if air is pressurized, like wind and compressed air, but the pressure gets quickly equalized to its surrounding area.

It is a great material to utilize: it is abundant and virtually weightless. Compressed and contained air's properties of buoyancy and fluidity is widely utilized, in tires, rafts and inflated buildings. Usually the container material of this fluid need to be tough(means usually rigid) and porous free.

This project was started with the goal to explore the possibilities of use of compressed air as a material, and achieve fully custom form-able inflatable structure as a proof of concept. In order to make custom form-able air container, I had to design and construct a new tool. The tool is able to heat-fuse two or more sheets of thermo-formable material, creating inflatable modules.

Toolpath generation is fully automatic from input curves, and the style of g-code is generic thus it can also be used for drawing bots.

Air pressure is kept relatively low inside the unit(approx. 7psi). Units are then interwoven to each other, inducing higher inner pressure to its adjacent unit, thus stabilizing the structure as a whole. The assembled form differs by how many units are used and how they are connected to each other. This self-standing structure consists only of pressurized air and heat-fused membranes, without the use of any sub or superstructure.

Once assembled, the form stays tight but flexible and it is incredibly light for its size.

Research, design and build by Hyun Park and Jinkyu Kang as PHabric8

Phase 1 - Heater device development / Base module design

Evolution of heat-fusion device

Developing of Pressurized Air Modules


First successful air module


Test modules with parameters written on


Torsion induced self-sealing valve test

MK3 (spring loaded)

Module B, Deflated / Inflated

MK3a (insulated)

Module B, interconnected

MK4 (dual heater)

MK5 (Kevlar insulated)

Modules assembly - base unit with zipties

Phase 1 Final Result

The structure is semi-self standing and due to poor linkage mechanism(12 zip ties on each unit) it took 3 people good 5-6 hours to assemble approximately 300 units.

Phase 2 - New Module / Interlocking Linkage, Oct 2015

3 way snap on module, before trimming

Reciprocal Structure Configurations

3 unit, single layer

4 unit, single layer

5 unit, single layer

6 unit, single layer

8 unit, single layer

8 unit, double layer

7 unit, conical config

5 way module, butt joint config

2 way module, 3 unit interlock

Phase 2 Final Result - Stable Medium Sized, Closed Loop Reciprocal Structure, Nov 2015

Early stage process documentation