New Origami Folding Method Aims To Make Process Easier

Whenever you hear the word origami, it’s likely that your mind will go the ancient Asian art of folding paper into intricate pieces that resemble cranes, frogs and anything else your mind can come up with. They’re usually decorative pieces, or made to help relax the mind and fuel one’s imagination. The word ‘origami’ itself means folding paper, a term which is now used to describe all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin.

But did you know that scientists have also used it to make both tiny robots and self-folding 3D devices?

In fact, as the latest in terms of progress, a team of soft-matter physicists has recently developed a method that essentially designs an origami by assembling puzzle-like pieces that encode where the paper would fold and where various points of areas would meet. This makes designing folding structures into child’s play, literally.

“It’s a big advance, and I’m pretty excited about it,” Christian Santangelo, a theoretical physicist at Syracuse University in New York, who was not involved in the work, said.

Modern Origami

The new method is developed by Martin van Hecke, a physicist at Leiden University in the Netherlands and the research institute AMOLF in Amsterdam, along with Scott Waitukaitis, a physicist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria in Klosterneuburg. Enlisting the help of other colleagues, the team set out to make origami that is guaranteed to fold, and achieved it by using math to create different combinations and potential points of areas that can fold. They were able to make around 65,000 possible quadrilaterals, although only 140 are sure to fold. From this, they were able to construct a method that’s essentially as easy as assembling colored puzzle pieces on the floor.

“This allows us to design a pattern that’s guaranteed to fold,” Waitukaitis said.

At the moment, there are already existing computer algorithms that help search for legitimate origami patterns. However, most of these algorithms are still inefficient, meaning that the new method made by the team is very promising. Despite this, however, the team still believes that the origami puzzle approach is not as simple as it may seem on the surface.

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