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The art of origami or paper folding has received a considerable amount of mathematical study.

Fields of
interest include a given paper model's flat-foldability (whether the model can be flattened without
damaging it) and the use of paper folds to solve mathematical equations. n 1936 Margharita P. Beloch
showed that use of the 'Beloch fold', later used in the sixth of the Huzita–Hatori axioms, allowed the
general cubic equation to be solved using origami. [2] In 1949, R C Yeates' book "Geometric Methods"
described three allowed constructions corresponding to the first, second, and fifth of the Huzita–Hatori
axioms.[3][4] The axioms were discovered by Jacques Justin in 1989. [5] but were overlooked until the first
six were rediscovered by Humiaki Huzita in 1991.

Origami, the Japanese art form that dates at least to the 17th century,
creates unique patterns and shapes from paper folding. Today, origami
is inspiring engineers to design active materials and smart structures
that bend, stretch and curve, overcoming traditional design
constraints and rendering products and systems with remarkable
performance characteristics and features.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous example is the amazingly compact

automobile airbag, though origami-inspired engineering is also making
commercial inroads in the energy, apparel and healthcare industries.
"Origami engineering can meet the demand, across multiple industries,
for products and systems with very complex applications," said Mary
Frecker, a professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical
engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, one of the schools to
receive an NSF research grant. "Origami enables products with the
ability to fold and then unfold on demand — at any time."

To create such products, engineers are experimenting with active

materials like magneto-active elastomers, which are comprised of
magnetic filler particles — such as barium ferrite — embedded in an
elastomer matrix and which display a special ability to curve and
rotate when a magnetic field is applied. Polymer synthetic compounds
featuring extremely high energy density are also favorites in the
origami design community due to the ability of the material to
compress and stretch in the presence of a voltage.

While such materials are almost magical in how they morph into
different shapes and patterns, the challenge for engineers is create a
system that is structurally sound and can be fabricated for practical
use. [ Folding Origami Solar Panels Could Be Headed to Space (Video)]

"Traditional origami art uses paper; however, most engineering

applications require materials with finite thickness to provide the
necessary strength and stiffness to achieve a desired functionality,"
said Frecker. "Our analysis of experimental designs shows that
different activation processes determine different folds, curves and
deformation in the material structure."

GE Healthcare recently collaborated with Brigham Young University

(BYU) on a cover for the extension arm of an X-ray machine used in
hospital operating rooms. The shroud expands and contracts like a
musical accordion to shield the sterile field in the OR from the non-
sterile environment of the extension arm. The shroud is made of
Tyvek®, a type of synthetic paper produced by DuPont. GE required a
design improvement over the plastic drapes commonly used to shroud
the moveable C-arm; the drapes needed to be replaced every time the
device rotated in and out of the sterile field, adding time as well as
cost to surgical procedures.
"GE needed a design for the shroud that maintained the sterile field
during all movements and positions of the extension arm," said Larry
Howell, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at
BYU, also a recipient of one of the NSF grants. "After several concepts
were evaluated and tested, an origami-based design was selected."
The white cover for the extension arm of this X-ray machine used in
operating rooms was developed at Brigham Young University using origami-
inspired engineering.

Credit: Brigham Young University

The design of the shroud was complex. In order to accommodate the

needed motion and geometry of the X-ray machine arm, the BYU team
developed an adjustable shroud based on a crease pattern named
Miura-ori. Named after the Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura, the
Miura-ori method has inspired the field of systems design, allowing
engineers to fold and unfold rigid and thick surfaces in different
directions and continuous motion.

Another healthcare application for origami engineering is in the area of

surgical probes, forceps and other instruments that have the ability to
enter an opening in the body in a narrow and compact state and unfold
after insertion. Origami-based engineering may also play a role in
improved biomedical stents.

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The expanding role for origami engineering

Beyond the medical field, origami-inspired products include

telescopes, protective covers for automobiles, sporting goods, kayaks,
solar arrays, appliance drawers and temporary shelters. Solar arrays
represent an example of deployable membranes that allow engineers a
range of design flexibility, including low friction joints, low material
volume, controlled buckling, and extensive spanning ability.

In the area of sporting goods and apparel, industrial design students at

BYU, in collaboration with the consumer products firm Tessel Supply,
have adapted origami in the design of a novel backpack. The
distinguishing features of the backpack are the triangular meshes that
allow the bag to conform to the articles within, reducing jostling of the
contents and providing protection against damage. Combining form
and function, the backpack matches careful engineering with pleasing
aesthetics and comfort.

"These and other products present evidence that foldable solutions

are viable in engineering design," said Howell. "Origami art will
continue to inspire products that need to be portable and deployable."

According to Frecker at Penn State, one area of growing interest is in

self-folding structures, as well as deployable large-scale systems for
space exploration. There is also an emerging focus on applications
that combine electrical, magnetic and thermal means to activate
materials to enable origami-based design. There were 28
presentations on origami at the 2014 ASME Design Engineering
Technical Conferences — interest in the field is surging.

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views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally
published on Live Science.

Origami (折り紙, from ori meaning "folding", and kami meaning "paper" (kami changes to gami due to
rendaku)) is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage,
the word "origami" is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of
origin. The goal is to transform a flat sheet square of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and
sculpting techniques. Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or
markings on the paper.