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Nat Mater. 2016 May;15(5):583-8. doi: 10.1038/nmat4540. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Programming curvature using origami tessellations.

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Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan.
Departments of Physics, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
Wyss Institute for Bio-Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
Kavli Institute for Nanobio Science and Technology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Origami describes rules for creating folded structures from patterns on a flat sheet, but does not prescribe how patterns can be designed to fit target shapes. Here, starting from the simplest periodic origami pattern that yields one-degree-of-freedom collapsible structures-we show that scale-independent elementary geometric constructions and constrained optimization algorithms can be used to determine spatially modulated patterns that yield approximations to given surfaces of constant or varying curvature. Paper models confirm the feasibility of our calculations. We also assess the difficulty of realizing these geometric structures by quantifying the energetic barrier that separates the metastable flat and folded states. Moreover, we characterize the trade-off between the accuracy to which the pattern conforms to the target surface, and the effort associated with creating finer folds. Our approach enables the tailoring of origami patterns to drape complex surfaces independent of absolute scale, as well as the quantification of the energetic and material cost of doing so.


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