We love good examples of materials applied to design. This kite is a case in point. It’s a radically shaped box kite that shimmers and dances in the light.
The kite is made of a range of polymer lattice boxes, each roughly 20cm across. The whole object measures about 1x1x1m. Covering diagonal surfaces within each lattice box is a dichroic film.
Dichroic films are thin plastic sheets that reflect and refract light a little like oil. Although the films are thin, they are thick enough to distort the light waves slightly, meaning that different wavelengths (and therefore different colours) are reflected at different angles.
The dichroic film used here is from this range of sheets. The design is partly inspired by butterfly wings, which share a similar iridescent coating. In the butterflies’ case, however, that is the result of a spectacular waterproofing system.
Here, the kite shows off the material to its full potential as a decorative and bright covering polymer. The play of colour can also be very useful, as the film can be designed to reflect certain wavelengths. This could, for instance, be used to create a façade that lets warm, near-infra-red light, through, helping to heat a building.
The films used here are made from polyester, and can display a range of colours from cyan and deep blue to gold and bright red. We’re now looking forward to seeing the kite in action!