origami architecture

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Figuring Out How to Fold Solar Panels, Airplane Wings

The art of paper-folding called origami can produce complex shapes that are both beautiful and useful. It is being used to understand how DNA works, to make powerful microscopes out of paper, and to improve architecture and medicine

But if you want to convert something flat into another shape to reduce its size for packing and shipping, origami folds need to get even more complex for thicker objects. How, for instance, would you fold a space mirror for delivery into orbit or a new generation of retracting roofs, shape-shifting airplane wings or solar panels?

The answer, according to researchers at Oxford and China’s Tianjin University, is that you need to add hinges, extra material and crease offsets to produce origami’s smart folds in thick objects. Learn more and see more images below.

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