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Fold Printing: Using Digital Fabrication of Multi-Materials for Advanced Origami Prototyping

  • Ars Electronica Futurelab

Abstract and Figures

Computational Origami invents a new kind of complexity: the highly irregular crease pattern, posing a significant challenge to foldability. We design a method for digital fabrication of multi-material composites to overcome issues of foldability and durability faced when producing functional prototypes with paper. Our fabrication method, called Fold Printing, uses off-the-shelf and customised 3D printing technology, heat pressing, and elastomers to control fold memory in Folded Polymer Textile Elastomer Composites (FPTEC). Our results show that Fold-Printing affords foldability of high-irregularity crease patterns, and can produce durable advanced origami prototypes.
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Fold Printing: Using Digital Fabrication of
Multi-Materials for Advanced Origami Prototyping
M. Gardiner, R. Aigner, H. Ogawa, E. Reitb¨
ock, R. Hanlon
Abstract:Computational Origami invents a new kind of complexity: the highly
irregular crease pattern, posing a significant challenge to foldability. We design a
method for digital fabrication of multi-material composites to overcome issues of
foldability and durability faced when producing functional prototypes with paper.
Our fabrication method, called Fold Printing, uses off-the-shelf and customised
3D printing technology, heat pressing, and elastomers to control fold memory in
Folded Polymer Textile Elastomer Composites (FPTEC). Our results show that
Fold-Printing affords foldability of high-irregularity crease patterns, and can pro-
duce durable advanced origami prototypes.
1 Introduction
We present a method to increase foldability and durability of complex folding pat-
terns by digital fabrication of multi-material composites with rigid plates separated
by perfect hinges. Using a process we call Fold Printing (FP), that produces Fold
Printed Textiles (FPT), and Fold Printed Textile Elastomer Composites (FPTEC).
Similar in function to textile electroplating technique [De-Ruysser 09], and a ce-
ment textile process [van der Woerd et al. 15] with the advantages that no pre-
tooling or chemistry beyond polymer filaments, and textiles are required, and due
to the digital fabrication workflow, designs can be altered with each iteration. We
also present a custom-built cartesian robot, designed for prototyping sheets up to
105x105cm to accommodate an increased complexity in the number of folds per
model, and increased utility by producing prototypes at scale. We evaluate our
methods by proof-of-concept in a variety of design targets, featuring regular and
irregular software generated folding patterns. We compare foldability in terms
of time-to-fold laser-scored paper with FPTs, compare processing techniques, and
critically evaluate physical and aesthetic properties of the completed prototypes.
2 Related Work
Physical prototyping is used to validate folded designs, and often, the first choice
of material is paper. It is strong, thin, retains an elastic memory of folds, and can
be pre-scored by machine to increase foldability of complex patterns. However,
properties that make paper readily accept creases, also make it vulnerable to cor-
ruption. Unwanted creases impact the aesthetic of a design, functionally they can
impact the accuracy of subsequent folds, and can introduce buckling that corrupts
a collapsing pattern. Paper prototypes can be fragile and delicate, and even more
so for low-degree-of-foldability origami, and kinetic origami structures.
In recent years, the new tool in the origami studio isn’t a folding bone, its a
machine to aid creasing, as can be seen in the way digital fabrication techniques
have extended the origami toolkit: from early work with plotting [Resch 92], laser
scoring [Gardiner 13, p.21], perforation of paper, polymers, and textiles [Sallas
and Zscheckel 10], etching of metals [Kuribayashi et al. 06], electroplating [De-
Ruysser 09], as well as pleating by pressure and heat [Gardiner 15] are commonly
known methods in industry and practices of origami artists. A prime example of
the rigid plate/perfect hinge technique can be seen in the design object BAO BAO
by Issey Miyake [Miyake 10]. A simple pattern of rigid polymer panels heat-
fixed to a flexible polymer netting creates an immediately foldable structure and
compelling aesthetic object. Combinations of origami principles with elastomers,
polymers and composite approaches to robotics have been explored by a number
of researchers such as [Felton et al. 13], [Martinez et al. 12], and [Felton et al. 14].
Our contribution is a method for prototyping origami patterns in durable, low-
cost, easily acquired materials, by using an off-the-shelf FDM (Fuse Deposit Mod-
elling) 3D Printer to increase foldability of regular and irregular designs. The key
features of our method are to 3D print rigid polymer plates onto textiles, and to
treat with heat pressing. Followed by optional application of elastomers to in-
troduce elastic memory, and pneumatic sealing qualities, for per-instance setting
of the folded-shape memory of the Folded-Polymer-Textile-Elastomer-Composite
(FPTEC) and Folded-Polymer-Textile (FPT).
3 Method
3.1 Fabricating Foldable Polymer Textile Elastomer Composites
We call Fold Printing the process of using Fuse Deposit Modelling (FDM) to print
polymers onto textiles. The polymer forms semi-rigid plates separated by the near-
perfect hinge of the textile to form a flexible plate structure. The FPTEC process
extends the basic step of printing onto textiles, by heat pressing to enforce the
polymer-textile bond, and by application of elastomer to create elastic memory in
the composite. FPTEC (see Fig. 1) is the result of trial-and-error experimenta-
tion designed to find a digital fabrication method that produces durable, flexible,
fold-programmable materials, for application in contexts requiring robust rapid-
prototyping and rapid-folding, i.e kinetic origami, design proof-of-concept for ad-
vanced origami structures. The following section details a step by step overview of
the process.
3.1.1 FTPEC Process Overview
The following list details the general guidelines for creating an FPTEC. Steps 1–
2 are related to textile and polymer processing used in Fold Printing and should
be read and followed in conjunction with the instructions given in Section 3.2.
Steps 3–8 relate the application of Elastomer to an FPT, and related notes are given
in Section 3.3. Application of the elastomer listed in Step 3. requires a skilled
origamist, due to the short gel time of the elastomer.
1. Fold Print polymer geometry onto a natural textile: the coarse microstructure
of natural fibres is ideal for adhesion to the polymer. Autoignition of cotton is
above 400C, we print PLA at higher than normal ranges: 210-230C Fig. 2.
shows deeper penetration of the polymer through the weave at 230C.
2. Heat press at the printing temperature 200C for PLA. We used a t-shirt transfer
heat press with adjustable temperature and timer, with sheets of Teflon or grease-
proof baking paper to prevent adhesion of the polymer to the heat press.
3. Apply a thin coat of elastomer, pressing the elastomer into the textile weave
with a flat tool such as a spatula. We use Dow Corning 734, a strong, low-
viscosity flowable silicone, with excellent adhesion to a wide range of materials
including cotton and plastics, 315% elongation at break, a 3.0kN/m tear strength
[Corning 11].
4. Working quickly, cover the wet elastomer with a non-stick film such as PE
(Polyethylene), this layer is critical as it protects adjacent surfaces from bonding
as the elastomers cure.
5. Quickly vacuum press the composite to eliminate bubbles between the elas-
tomer and PE film, and remove from the vacuum. We used one layer of vacuum
bagging material over a flat bench to ensure a tight pull onto a registered flat
6. Working as quickly as possible, fold the composite into the desired shape, and
leave to cure, under light pressure or clamps to retain shape.
7. After curing, remove the non-stick film, and trim off any excess polymer.
3.2 Fold Printing 101
The following notes for Fold Printing are useful for use with off-the-shelf 3D-
printers, our experiments were conducted on Ultimaker 21and Mankati Fullscale
XT2. The following general notes are to aid first-time printer set up and calibration
for Fold Printing.
The first step is to calibrate the printer head to be in direct contact with the
textile (See Fig. 2). Calibration is made by adjusting the nozzle height as low
as possible, and while printing, incrementally move upwards until the extrusion
is visible. Approximately 50% coverage of the textile is ideal, no extrusion is a
sign of the nozzle being set too low. Material feed rate can be reduced by up to
2 plus
Figure 1: Left: FPTEC Miura-ORI, in a closed configuration. Right: Close up of
open Yoshimura-ORI. Both sheets were coated on the non-printed side and pressed
under vacuum at 0.3 Pa.
Figure 2: L: first layer setup guide showing nozzle in contact with textile; CL: 500x
magnification shows the effect of temperature on polymer penetration into the textile
weave. CR: Top and edge finish on different cotton weaves. R: Second layer nozzle
50% to preventing material excess, visible as a raised bump around the edge of the
extrusion noodle, as the excess is pushed outwards from the nozzle point.
Set up your slicer to print a minimum of 2-3 layers. For a 0.4mm nozzle, set the
layer height at 0.2mm. the first layer temperature 220C for PLA. The second or
third layers can be reduced to a lower print temperature between 190-210C, this
varies between filaments and requires per-instance tuning.
Bed levelling is crucial, we identified that a constant distance of the printing
head relative to the printer bed, ±0.1mm greatly improved the consistency of both
adhesion and finish. 75% of calibration time was spent bed levelling and adjust-
ing nozzle height, the last 25% was spent on material flow and temperature ad-
justments. Glass and aluminium build platforms work equivalently, as the print
bed does not require heating. We use bulldog paper clamps, and for loose textile
weaves, we also apply double-sided tape, to affix the textile to the build platform.
3.3 Setting Fold Memory: Water, Elastomers, Resins
FPTs have either slight or no elastic memory, and thus an unfolded FPT can forget
its folds. Fold Memory can be set using a variety of methods: by water for a more
paper-like memory; by elastomer for a muscle-like elasticity; and by resin for a
rigid component. Each application is by liquid and requires drying or curing time.
Water is the simplest, our experiments used 60C (water from a domestic hot tap)
to saturate the FPT, and after folding was held in shape until dry. We experimented
with elastomers to enable the folded form to retract into a set configuration when
expanded or contracted, see Fig. 1. We tested a range of industrial RTV silicones
and two component silicones. Dow Corning 734 Flowable Silicone Sealant was
selected as the best candidate, due to its adhesion to many materials, including
cotton and plastics, its excellent viscosity for application onto textiles, and the per-
formance of its elastic memory in our results. The higher viscosity Dow Corning
732 Silicone Adhesive did not penetrate the cotton and felt weaves, and resulted
in thicker layers of silicone, creating an over-stiff elastic memory that impaired
movement of the folded pattern. In our experiments with resin, we used polyester
and epoxy casting and fibreglassing resins, to permanently harden the sculpture
in a set shape. This method of origami sculpture produces resilient, lightweight
folded structures. To facilitate accurate curing positions of more open patterns, we
fabricated negative moulds to set the target fold geometry.
3.4 Large Format Fold Printer
Our large format Fold Printer, playfully dubbed NIWASHI from Japanese meaning
gardener, was developed to produce FPTs and FPTEC artefacts at scale, and to
allow more folds per sheet to afford complex geometries due to increased size sheet.
The design of the printer (cartesian robot), was based on pick-and-place gantry
robots, we built a 125 x 125cm XY gantry locating a retractable 7.5cm Z-axis, to
print onto 110cm wide textile rolls.
The machine build raised many design issues particular to our design require-
ments. Our build recommendations are as follows:
Figure 3: Building NIWASHI, from bare bones, gantry structure, prototype in
progress, to functional printer
Choice of hardware and firmware: we chose open-source hardware RUMBA3,
running open-source software Marlin4for controlling the printer, as Marlin pro-
vides various bed levelling functions for continuous adjustment of the Z-axis.
This compensates for bed height variations, based on a matrix of pre-measured
Gantry system: for NIWASHI-I we machined custom connecting plates to fit
IGUS drylin5belt-driven linear rails. A more rigid, ball-bearing guided, CCM6
linear rail system was used on the dual-head NIWASHI-II, we recommend the
latter due to improved rigidity.
Fine layer height calibration: a 0.5mm pitch screw-drive spindle was installed
as the Z axis.
High powered extrusion to push the material into the textile, and material
transport: E3D Titan Extruder7, fed with 1.75mm filament through a long flexi-
ble Teflon Bowden tube8, fed through the e-chain to the material spool, mounted
at the end of the X carriage.
Holding the fabric in place during printing: a martensitic stainless steel 1.4000
bed allows magnets to be used to hold textiles in place.
Print levelling calibration due to deflection and bed levelness: using bed lev-
elling functions built into Marlin, at the maximum grid resolution of 9 x 9, the
printer was calibrated to compensate for the deflection, measuring Z offsets with
an error tolerance of 0.01mm, with the result of substantially improved print
quality across the bed.
Material deposition rates and calibration: our experience using CURA slicer
for the Ultimaker and Mankati showed that print settings, especially material
feed rate, and Z-height adjustments were critical for print quality. Simplify3D9
generates G-code (RS-274), from user-defined material profiles, and includes a
4Marlin Open Source 3D Printer Firmware
5IGUS drylin
6CCM linear motion rails
7E3D Titan Extruder
8Erik’s Bowden Extruder Bowden Extruder
9Simplify 3D
Figure 4: FPTEC Experiment Crease Patterns. From left: Orizuru, Miura45, FF-
Dome, Resch4i
Figure 5: FPTEC Experiment Print Patterns. From left: Orizuru with variable
(1.5–6mm) width creases, FFDome with 2.5mm width creases. Black shows the
extruded section printed onto the textile.
soft machine control panel to support tweaking of print settings such as temper-
ature and material feed rate during print calibration.
4 Results
4.1 FPTEC experiments
Orizuru is an example of the additional work required to using FPTs for multi-
layered folding, where the complete folding pattern can be resolved in the print.
Miura45 is a Miura-ori, or herringbone pattern, with high regularity due to the 45
chevrons. Collapsing this pattern causes a cascade of folds to fall into place with
gentle prodding. FFDome is a pattern output from FreeForm Origami, a dome
of subdivided icosahedron geometry was imported and Origamized on default set-
tings. The repeated generalised Resch structure makes the collapse of this piece
come together quickly in the FPT, in paper it was difficult to pre-crease the acute
angles, resulting in a longer paper fold time. Resch4i is a deliberately irregular
Figure 6: FPTEC Experiments paper vs FPTEC from left: Orizuru (paper crane),
FFDome from FreeForm Origami Origamizer algorithm, Miura45, and Resch4i
from ORI*gh
arrangement of the standard Resch-4 pattern mapped onto an uneven surface, caus-
ing the squares to become rhomboids of various dimensions. The Resch geometry,
even in irregular arrangement, was simple to actuate with FPT.
4.2 Folding time comparison
In general, we observed that folding FPTs was unquestionably easier than folding
any other medium we have experienced. It requires some gentle compression on
the pattern and with gentle manipulation the crease patterns pop into place. We
conducted timed folding experiments to evaluate the benefit, starting a stopwatch
prior to folding, and stopping immediately on completion. The same author timed a
selection of crease patterns in FPTs and laser-cut machine-made Washi or Elephant
Hide. Results in Table 1 show the clear improvement of foldability between paper
and FPTs. Speed advantages are produced by the semi-rigid plates and perfect
hinges, resulting in 1.7 to 11.5 times faster folding times. In addition, as visible in
Fig. 6, there is little or no fold induced deformations or imperfections in the FPTs,
but the paper samples (not shown), being folded as quickly as possible, suffered
minor crumpling.
Table 1: Time to fold Laser Scored Paper vs FPTEC, folds: number of Folds.
Folding time in seconds for Paper, Seconds per Fold for Paper. Time in seconds
for FPTEC, Seconds per fold for FPTEC, and Percentage Difference between paper
and FPTEC. Shows significant improvement between paper and FTPEC in %diff
Model Folds PAPER s/f FPTEC s/f % diff
Orizuru 28 50 s 1.79 28 s 1.00 179%
Miura45 1188 1981 s 1.67 330 s 3.60 600%
FFDome 405 2339 s 5.78 202 s 2.00 1158%
Resch4i 555 1635 s 2.95 308 s 1.80 531%
4.3 General Design Considerations
A key issue for developmental work with FPTs is the issue of generating suitable
geometry. Our experimental results indicated the following general design consid-
eration that can be applied by researchers applying this technique:
Tesselations and Corrugations: showed high applicability for the FPT & FPTEC
process. Designers working with complex patterns can effortless achieve a folded
result with an unmodified extruded crease pattern.
Irregular and complex designs: are exceptionally easy to fold, despite the ir-
regular positioning of folds, angles, and lack of parallelity, FPTs and FPTECs
outperform other methods of folding a sheet with respect to time-to-fold.
Fold Density: is proportional to crease width, which necessarily occupies a
larger than normal area when compared to creases in paper. Ultimately, the fold
count is limited by the print size, and combined material thickness.
Heat Pressing: changes the geometry, especially crease width. The loss was
approximately 1mm less than the printed crease width.
Multi-layered designs: require creases to be adjusted width dependently, to al-
low for overlapping folds (see variable width creases in Figure 5). The maximum
factors for assigning crease width are shown in Figure 7. The pliability of tex-
tiles is such that the radial fold width can effectively be up to 50% less than these
maximums. Therefore, with T in mm, we adjusted our width calculation to be:
2+1mm (1)
5 Evaluation and Further Work
5.1 On Textile selection
Fig. 2 shows experimental results of calibrated prints on three cotton weaves:
Poplin, Duck and Twill. Top and edge finish are consistent across each weave,
having similar visual qualities. Poplin’s top finish is smoother, due to the low pro-
file and variance of the weave. Poplin proved to be preferable for fine folding
Figure 7: Calculating fold radial width from left: f=Tπ; f=1.5Tπ; f=2Tπ; Where
f is radial width of the fold, and T is the thickness of the material. This value can be
up to 50% less for pliable textiles.
applications with a multi-material thickness of 0.25 mm. Duck has extra thickness,
more body, and retains fold direction memory, it also functions better for larger
folded plate structures with a thickness of 0.5 mm. Further experiments included
felts, ranging from pure wool to synthetic blends, concluding with a preference for
Offitex R
10, a textile designed for under-collar application and consists of approx-
imately 70 % wool and 30 % rayon. For printing onto Offitex R
, the initial printer
head position (Z0) had to be adjusted to 80 % of the material height, such that the
nozzle creates an indent when traversing the felt. Due to the material’s porosity,
the extruded polymer is absorbed into the fibres. We achieved excellent adhesion
with felt, with attempts to remove the printed layer destroying the material
5.2 On FPTs and FPTECs
Our general observations and measured results show marked improvement of fold-
ability, material properties and application domains over paper. The application
of polymers as semi-rigid plates allows FPTECs and FPTs to be folded up to 11.5
times faster than laser-scored paper, enabling the researcher to rapid-prototype and
rapid-fold new designs of increased complexity. The increased durability, water
resistance, and tear resistance of textiles over paper, and the ability of textiles to
accept coatings of water, elastomers or resins, affords a wider range of applica-
tions, and material customisations. Elastomers have previously been successfully
deployed in origami soft-robotic actuators, and we expect that research-based ex-
perimentation into FPTECs will lead to new developments in advanced origami ap-
plications such as new soft-robotic actuators, and soft interfaces in tangible human-
computer interaction.
6 Conclusion
FPTs and FPTECs as fabrication methods are shown to have higher foldability
than paper in regular and irregular geometries. Affording potential for researchers
to investigate materials in new areas of advanced origami prototyping, and new aes-
thetics due to freedom of geometry. Further work suggests an increased application
domain for origami prototypes through experimental multi-material combinations,
including variant 3D printing filaments such as conductive carbon, flexible nylons,
with an assortment of textiles and other sheet materials. We speculate that this
technique could realise complex folding structures for applications in robotics, es-
pecially soft robotics, where programmability of structure, and material properties
such as fold-memory elasticity are required.
7 Acknowledgements
PEEK Project AR272-G21. Funded through the FWF, PEEK Program, Program
Management: Dr Eugen Banauch. Special thanks to Ars Electronica Futurelab for
their continued support of this research.
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Matthew Gardiner
Ars Electronica Futurelab, Ars Electronica Strasse 1, Linz 4040, Austria.
University of Newcastle, School of Creative Industries, Newcastle Australia.
Roland Aigner, Hideaki Ogawa, Erwin Reitb¨
ock and Rachel Hanlon
Ars Electronica Futurelab, Ars Electronica Strasse 1, Linz 4040
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This paper presents the design of a thin barrel vault with textile-reinforced concrete, constructed by means of folding. The geometry of the thin barrel vault is approximated with a folded plate structure based on the Yoshimura crease pattern. A mathematical formulation to describe the relationship between the layout of the crease pattern and the shape of the barrel vault is given. A design and manufacturing method that is currently under development at the Institute of Structural Concrete was used to realize the vault. Using this method, spatial structures are constructed by folding planar elements with pre-implemented crease lines. In contrast to former studies, which have been performed on a model scale, the prototype of the barrel vault was built in life-size at a one-to-one scale. The applied construction process was assessed and compared to the use of spatial formwork.
The development of soft pneumatic actuators based on composites consisting of elastomers with embedded sheet or fiber structures (e.g., paper or fabric) that are flexible but not extensible is described. On pneumatic inflation, these actuators move anisotropically, based on the motions accessible by their composite structures. They are inexpensive, simple to fabricate, light in weight, and easy to actuate. This class of structure is versatile: the same principles of design lead to actuators that respond to pressurization with a wide range of motions (bending, extension, contraction, twisting, and others). Paper, when used to introduce anisotropy into elastomers, can be readily folded into 3D structures following the principles of origami; these folded structures increase the stiffness and anisotropy of the elastomeric actuators, while being light in weight. These soft actuators can manipulate objects with moderate performance; for example, they can lift loads up to 120 times their weight. They can also be combined with other components, for example, electrical components, to increase their functionality.
This paper describes the design, manufacturing and properties of a new type of stent graft, the origami stent graft. Unlike conventional stent grafts which consist of a wire mesh stent and a covering membrane, the new origami stent graft is made from a single foldable foil with hill and valley folds. The Ni-rich titanium/nickel (TiNi) shape memory alloy (SMA) foil made by the newly developed ultrafine laminates method was used in order to produce the stent graft. The pattern of folds on the foil was produced by negative photochemical etching. The deployment of the stent graft is achieved either by SMA effect at the body temperature or by making use of property of superelasticity. A number of prototypes of the stent graft, which are the same size as standard oesophageal and aortal stent grafts, have been produced successfully. It was demonstrated that the stent graft deploy as expected.
The Ron Resch Paper and Stick Film on Vimeo
  • Ron Resch
Ron Resch. "The Ron Resch Paper and Stick Film on Vimeo.", 1992.
References [Corning 11] Dow Corning
  • Erik's Bowden
  • Extruder
Erik's Bowden Extruder Bowden Extruder 9 Simplify 3D References [Corning 11] Dow Corning. "Dow Corning R 734 Flowable Adhesive Sealant -Product Information Sheet.", 2011.