Origami-Inspired Design

How do you develop a new mechanism from scratch? How do you get the intuition you need to be able to understand whether a fold pattern will generate the type of motion you want? This tutorial will take you through some techniques to get your mind thinking like a laminate device designer.

Prototype, prototype, prototype!

I often find that the easiest way to get a new device that moves the way I want is to work with my hands and create prototypes with the materials around me. You can get a stack of 500 sheets of origami paper on amazon really cheap, and then start folding and testing your ideas.

Let’s Try!

Take a sheet of paper and fold it like this:

This sequence produces a set of six bodies each separated from its neighbor by a “fold”, or in robotics terms, a “joint”. If you take one end of the sheet of paper and move it with respect to the other, you’ll find you have created a fundamental component in mechanism theory: the ball joint!

Fun Fact:

The ball joint is a three-degree-of-freedom element which allows two bodies to rotate in all three directions with respect to each other. Try rotating the right side around in place!