Volume: 135(11) - November, 2013
For centuries origami artists have invested immeasurable effort developing models under extreme self-imposed constraints (e.g., only paper, no cutting or gluing, one regular-shaped sheet). The accessible and formable medium of paper has enabled swift prototyping of vast numbers of possible designs. This effort has resulted in stunning origami structures and mechanisms created in a simple medium with only a single fabrication process (folding). Origami artists’ methods and perspectives have created systems that have not previously been conceived using traditional engineering methods. Using origami-inspired methods, it may be possible to design origami-like systems but using different materials and processes to meet emerging product requirements. Origami-inspired systems have the potential to meet needs that are presently unfulfilled because the design of such systems was previously too difficult or they were not yet envisioned.
Origami tessellations also show promise for impact in engineering design. There are theoretical, computational, and artistic challenges associated with many aspects of design that take advantage of symmetry of patterns and ability to fold complex shapes. While various approaches exist, it is important to bring together good examples of practical design and the thought process of the designers who created folding and/or tiled/patterned based products with theoretical approaches so as to catalyze new ideas in engineering design.
As the research and design community has begun to realize the potential impact that origami and tessellation principles may have on engineering design, there has been an increased interest in better understanding possible connections. This interest is likely to accelerate due to the support of funding agencies, including the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program with its “Origami Design for Integration of Self-assembling Systems for Engineering Innovation (ODISSEI)” research topic area. It is refreshing to see how art can be so inspiring to engineering and science disciplines, and we hope that this is just the beginning of greater understanding and collaboration between the artistic, engineering, manufacturing, and scientific communities. Art may indeed be the critical catalyst needed to ignite a passion for engineering and science in our youth and thus be a key to the future of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
This special issue of the Journal of Mechanical Design was created as an early venue for work in this emerging research area. Topics in this issue are intentionally varied, and include the following:
- Theoretical foundations and frameworks for origami and tessellation in design
- Strategies and methods for designing productions that fold to compact sizes or deploy to large sizes
- Approaches for efficiently modeling mechanical behaviors for origami and tessellation in design
- Strategies and methods for designing and manufacturing patterned structures
- Examination of the theoretical foundations of existing approaches and their extension to engineering design
Alexander H. Slocum
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Larry L. Howell
Brigham Young University
Mary I. Frecker
Pennsylvania State University