The fact that they could be shipped flat in large quantities, and then assembled once onsite, makes them especially valuable. Other examples of their use include deployment into space for various forms of exploration, IKEA-style furniture that assembles upon arrival, or for self-folding shelters that rapidly assemble in disaster zones.
Yet another promising application for this technology is rapid prototyping of new designs for tiny machines that are too small to be assembled by hand.
In a related report, Jesse Silverberg from Cornell University report how they, too, used origami-based engineering to design and build a new type of lightweight, ultra-tough programmable metamaterial. The researchers explain that metamaterials are constructed out of medium-sized building blocks that are bigger than atoms, but much smaller than the structures they are used to construct and that "by adding structure at this intermediate size, previously unobtainable properties can be engineered with ease."
The researchers studied a specific type of zigzag folding pattern that has been used to efficiently pack solar panels for space missions. They used the pattern to create folded sheets, and then devised a way to structurally alter the sheets so that they could control their mechanical properties. This would allow them to create metamaterials with desirable properties, such as strength or stiffness.
"When incorporated into more complex devices, these materials will enable on-the-fly transformation of mechanical function," explained Silverberg. "We envision combining these origami-inspired materials with computer-controlled actuators to buil
|Contact: Natasha D. Pinol|
American Association for the Advancement of Science