Can a flat sheet material be pre-programmed with tendencies so that when a simple axial pressure is applied, it pops into a new geometry with a purpose? 

In Origami, certain folds are made to transform a single, square sheet of paper into almost anything, from dodecahedrons to dinosaurs.  But there are also intermediate folds that are done and undone, purely to create a bias in the paper so that it “knows” which way to collapse during an ensuing operation – essentially creating a weakness in the surface to guide its reaction to an applied force.

Our research investigates replicating the latter technique, but on a sheet of steel instead of paper, using cuts and perforations in place of folds.

After several iterations and adjustments, the resulting transformations were surprisingly instantaneous.  The forklift operators (our source for pure tension) were especially pleased.

We are currently working on strengthening the weaknesses.


Designed and prototyped in collaboration with