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Artif Life. Fall 2015;21(4):398-411. doi: 10.1162/ARTL_a_00183. Epub 2015 Nov 6.

Multi-crease Self-folding by Global Heating.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


This study demonstrates a new approach to autonomous folding for the body of a 3D robot from a 2D sheet, using heat. We approach this challenge by folding a 0.27-mm sheetlike material into a structure. We utilize the thermal deformation of a contractive sheet sandwiched by rigid structural layers. During this baking process, the heat applied on the entire sheet induces contraction of the contracting layer and thus forms an instructed bend in the sheet. To attain the targeted folding angles, the V-fold spans method is used. The targeted angle θout can be kinematically encoded into crease geometry. The realization of this angle in the folded structure can be approximately controlled by a contraction angle θin. The process is non-reversible, is reliable, and is relatively fast. Our method can be applied simultaneously to all the folds in multi-crease origami structures. We demonstrate the use of this method to create a lightweight mobile robot.


Heat-based multi-crease self-folding; V-fold spans; fold angle control; morphogenetic fabrication; self-assembly


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