Innovation That Matters

Folk art bandage

Asian folk art inspires better fitting bandages

Sport & Fitness

Using traditional artistic cutting patterns, a researcher designed medical bandages that are a better fit and more adhesive.

As healthcare advances worldwide, citizens are seeing the benefits of innovative technology on traditional methods. We have seen how technology has aided communication between doctors and patients. The wearable translation device, created by Fujitsu Laboratories, revolutionized doctor-patient relations. The device facilitates communication and reduces the potential for things to get lost in translation. Moreover, being wearable the device is ideal for people who often have their hands full, namely medical professionals.

Technology has also brought diagnosis right into the hands of the public, with the app Migraine Buddy. The mobile application is capable of predicting an oncoming migraine thanks to its analysis of external and internal factors. Researchers from MIT have in fact looked at the past for inspiration for their solution to bandages that just won’t hold. Combining traditional Asian art with modern technology they invented a better fitting more adhesive bandage. The bandage is perfectly suited for joints such as elbows and knees.

The bandage’s design was inspired by the origami-esque kirigami, the art of cutting intricate patterns into paper. It transpires that these cutting patterns serve very well when applied to a bandage. The cuts allow the most central slits to open and close as the joint bends. Meanwhile, the outermost cuts remain closed and firmly stick to the skin. This helps the bandage to fit better when a joint bends and moves. The cuts also help with the bandage’s grip. As the inner cuts open they relieve tension, preventing the bandage from detaching from the skin.

Ruike Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering led the team who came up with this design. She summarizes their findings here: “in most cases, people make cuts in a structure to make it stretchable, but we are the first group to find, with a systematic mechanism study, that a kirigami design can improve a material’s adhesion.”

It is fascinating how such ancient arts can hold the key for our future inventions and developments. How else could a blending of the old and new lead to unique findings? Will we see kirigami-style cuts in other new designs?



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