Ikea furniture and pasta have something in common… and it AIN’T MEATBALLS!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Penne, rigatoni, farfalle … oh my! I can’t wait for pasta night – I’ve got a cupboard full of choices!

But all that packaging – so wasteful! Could IKEA’s flat packaging concept be applied to all those fun pasta shapes?

Ye Tao at Carnegie Mellon University and colleagues got to noodlin’! 

First, they used computer models to design precise grooves in a flat pasta strip. In computer simulated tests, it swelled and curled — thanks to the precise measurements between grooves! Next stage? The test kitchen!

The researchers whipped up a batch of fresh dough and stamped their design using 3-D printed molds. And now the moment of truth — dropping their creations into boiling water…

Voila! PERFECTLY shaped noodles! Twisty, helical, waved, or boxy — AND delicious! They got it! 

Morphable pasta could save around eighty-five percent of packaging materials and space! 

The pasta-bilities are endless! No tiny Allen wrench needed.

Reference: Ye Tao, Yi-Chin Lee, Haolin Liu, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Jianxun Cui, Catherine Mondoa, Mahnoush Babaei, Jasio Santillan, Guanyun Wang, Danli Luo, Di Liu, Humphrey Yang, Youngwook Do, Lingyun Sun, Wen Wang, Teng Zhang, Lining Yao. Flat pasta with designed surface grooves can dynamically morph into three-dimensional shapes when boiled. Science Advances. 7, 19. 2021.

Photo Credit: Morphing Matter Lab/Carnegie Mellon University