Very cool widget from British firm RTL Materials, who’ve figured out a trick for making composite tubes that are pre-stressed, like a tape measure, such that they want to roll up into a rigid round tube structure when unfurled from a flat, coiled state. Unlike a tape measure, however, these “bistable reeled composites” are also perfectly happy to hang out in their “reeled” state without springs, cases, or other mechanical constraints. Made of a soft-edged fabric composite, they can be stowed and deployed by hand, as Mike Judson of Altius Space Machines demonstrates in the embedded video. Man, that looks like fun! [via Core77]