Various shapes made from Miura-ori pattern (Image courtesy of Mahadevan Lab)
(January 27, 2016) SIMPLE ORIGAMI FOLD MAY HOLD THE KEY TO DESIGNING POP-UP FURNITURE, MEDICAL DEVICES AND SCIENTIFIC TOOLS
What if you could make any object out of a flat sheet of paper?
That future is on the horizon thanks to new research by L. Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). He is also a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and member of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology, at Harvard University.
Mahadevan and his team have characterized a fundamental origami fold, or tessellation, that could be used as a building block to create almost any three-dimensional shape, from nanostructures to buildings. The research is published in Nature Materials.
This spiral folds rigidly from flat pattern through the target surface and onto the
flat-folded plane (Image courtesy of Mahadevan Lab)
The folding pattern, known as the Miura-ori, is a periodic way to tile the plane using the simplest mountain-valley fold in origami. It was used as a decorative item in clothing at least as long ago as the 15th century. A folded Miura can be packed into a flat, compact shape and unfolded in one continuous motion, making it ideal for packing rigid structures like solar panels. It also occurs in nature in a variety of situations, such as in insect wings and certain leaves.
“Could this simple folding pattern serve as a template for more complicated shapes, such as saddles, spheres, cylinders, and helices?” asked Mahadevan.
“We found an incredible amount of flexibility hidden inside the geometry of the Miura-ori,” said Levi Dudte, graduate student in the Mahadevan lab and first author of the paper. “As it turns out, this fold is capable of creating many more shapes than we imagined.”