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Modular and Uniformly Thick Origami for Large-Scale, Adaptable, Deployable, and Load-Carrying Structures

Yi ZhuEvgueni T. Filipov
Nov 2023
Existing Civil Engineering structures have limited adaptability and reusability to response to non-stationary environments and changing user needs. Although origami principles provide capabilities of dense packaging and reconfiguration, existing origami systems have not achieved deployable metre-scale structures that can support large loads. Here, we established a Modular and Uniformly Thick Origami (MUTO) system that can deploy into metre-scale structures, adapt into different shapes, and carry remarkably large loads. This work first derives conditions for developable and flat foldable thick origami to generate the MUTO pattern. We then show that MUTO systems possess a high level of modularity to achieve versatile designs, rapid repair, and adaptability of global shapes and functions. In addition, MUTO systems can harness kinematic bifurcation to reconfigure between storage and structural states, allowing for efficient transportation and reuse. Finally, we show that uniform thickness of MUTO systems enables them to carry large loads, with a 1-metre-tall 7.4 kg MUTO column capable of carrying a 2.1-ton force. We believe concepts of MUTO will challenge traditional practice in Civil Engineering by enabling large-scale, adaptable, deployable, and load-carrying structures, and offer broader applications in aerospace systems, space habitats, robotics, and more.
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