Robotic Origami Folding
Prof. Devin Balkcom
Thin materials like sheet metal, paper, and cardboard are lightweight, inexpensive, and can be stored and shipped in bulk. Folding allows the construction of semi-rigid 3-D structures, including fast-food containers, paper bags, and file cabinets. Folding can also allow a single large surface or chain to be stored in a small volume; motivating examples include car airbags, space-telescope mirrors, and proteins. Finally, folding allows reconfiguration, without the need for disassembly and reassembly.
We have built the first origami-folding robot (left), capable of folding a paper hat, paper airplane, and paper cup. We have also analyzed more complicated folding techniques; work with Erik and Martin Demaine questions whether ordinary paper shopping bags can be mathematically folded.