Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paper tubes make stiff origami structures

08.09.2015

From shipping and construction to outer space, origami could put a folded twist on structural engineering.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Tokyo have developed a new "zippered tube" configuration that makes paper structures that are stiff enough to hold weight yet can fold flat for easy shipping and storage.


Origami 'zipper tubes' interlocking zigzag paper tubes, can be configured to build a variety of structures that have stiffness and function, but can fold compactly for storage or shipping.

Credit: Rob Felt

Their method could be applied to other thin materials, such as plastic or metal, to transform structures from furniture to buildings to microscopic robots.

Illinois graduate researcher Evgueni Filipov, Georgia Tech professor Glaucio Paulino and University of Tokyo professor Tomohiro Tachi published their work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Origami structures would be useful in many engineering and everyday applications, such as a robotic arm that could reach out and scrunch up, a construction crane that could fold to pick up or deliver a load, or pop-up furniture. Paulino sees particular potential for quick-assembling emergency shelters, bridges and other infrastructure in the wake of a natural disaster.

"Origami became more of an objective for engineering and a science just in the last five years or so," Filipov said. "A lot of it was driven by space exploration, to be able to launch structures compactly and deploy them in space. But we're starting to see how it has potential for a lot of different fields of engineering. You could prefabricate something in a factory, ship it compactly and deploy it on site."

The researchers use a particular origami technique called Miura-ori folding. They make precise, zigzag-folded strips of paper, then glue two strips together to make a tube. While the single strip of paper is highly flexible, the tube is stiffer and does not fold in as many directions.

The researchers tried coupling tubes in different configurations to see if that added to the structural stiffness of the paper structures. They found that interlocking two tubes in zipper-like fashion made them much stiffer and harder to twist or bend. The structure folds up flat, yet rapidly and easily expands to the rigid tube configuration.

"The geometry really plays a role," said Paulino, a former Illinois professor of civil and environmental engineering. "We are putting two tubes together in a strange way. What we want is a structure that is flexible and stiff at the same time. This is just paper, but it has tremendous stiffness."

The zipper configuration works even with tubes that have different angles of folding. By combining tubes with different geometries, the researchers can make many different three-dimensional structures, such as a bridge, a canopy or a tower.

"The ability to change functionality in real time is a real advantage in origami," Filipov said. "By having these transformable structures, you can change their functionality and make them adaptable. They are reconfigurable. You can change the material characteristics: You can make them stiffer or softer depending on the intended use."

The team uses paper prototypes to demonstrate how a thin, flexible sheet can be folded into functional structures, but their techniques could be applied to other thin materials, Filipov said. Larger-scale applications could combine metal or plastic panels with hinges.

Next, the researchers plan to explore new combinations of tubes with different folding angles to build new structures. They also hope to apply their techniques to other materials and explore applications from large-scale construction to microscopic structures for biomedical devices or robotics.

"All of these ideas apply from the nanoscale and microscale up to large scales and even structures that NASA would deploy into space," Paulino said. "Depending on your interest, the applications are endless. We have just scratched the surface. Once you have a powerful concept, which we think the zipper coupling is, you can explore applications in many different areas."

###

The National Science Foundation supported this work.

Editor's notes: To reach Evgueni Filipov, email filipov1@illinois.edu. To reach Glaucio Paulino, call 217-333-3233; email: glaucio.paulino@ce.gatech.edu. The paper "Origami tubes assembled into stiff, yet reconfigurable structures and metamaterials" is available from PNAS.

Media contacts:

University of Illinois: Liz Ahlberg, 217-244-1073, eahlberg@illinois.edu

Georgia Tech: John Toon, john.toon@comm.gatech.edu

University of Tokyo: Hiroaki Ishino, koho-jyoho@adm.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Liz Ahlberg | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Polymer-graphene nanocarpets to electrify smart fabrics
18.04.2018 | Tomsk Polytechnic University

nachricht New capabilities at NSLS-II set to advance materials science
18.04.2018 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

Im Focus: Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.

“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Improved stability of plastic light-emitting diodes

19.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Enduring cold temperatures alters fat cell epigenetics

19.04.2018 | Life Sciences

New capabilities at NSLS-II set to advance materials science

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>