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How Origami Inspires Scientific Innovations

We all know that origami is definitely a rewarding piece of artwork. But do you know origami was an inspiration for most of the scientist to discover their inventions?

Yes, Origami inspires scientific creativity. In today's modern world many engineers believe that origami helps to do their innovations.

Origami principles and techniques are now used in a wide variety of applications from the design of satellites, to heart stents, to self-assembling robots, and much more.

Let us read on to discover how origami principles have been used in some of the coolest applications.

Mirrors and solar panels in space

How would you get something into a compact shape for lift-off and then quickly make it big again in outer space? At this point, you can probably guess. Origami-type folding standards have been utilized to make folding mirrors.

A famous scientist called Lang has worked with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to design the Eyeglass Telescope using computational origami to make a foldable lens.

The same general idea has been implemented to make foldable solar panels and other contraptions that need to be tucked away and then unfurled.

This simple piece of paper folding and unfolding idea lead to the invention of zig-zag metamaterials.


We all know the importance of airbags. The making of airbags is pretty tough than you think. It's got to open in a split second and become rigid, but not too rigid.

It turns out that the best way to model the inflation of a shape of this size is to figure out how to create a 3-D polyhedron from a flat sheet, using origami folds technique.

Again the famous scientist Robert Lang helped a German company develop software to simulate the opening and folding-up of an airbag and it's been widely used by many manufacturing organizations.

Retinal Implants

A Cal Tech researcher named Sergio Pellegrino is developing an origami-inspired retinal implant, to help people with age-related macular degeneration.

It also helps people with retinitis pigmentosea- it is a condition that causes loss of photoreceptors. Pellegrino said his device could be built flat at a lower cost.

The folding techniques used in the device could allow for a dense array of electrodes near the retina and it could be elastically compliant to adapt to a variety of retina sizes.

3D Sculptures

Of course, origami is still used to make artworks but do you know it can also be the base for 3D Sculptures?

A famous renowned origami artist called Tomohiro Tachi developed innovative 3-D sculptures using origami techniques. Tachi made the 3D Sculptures from metal.

This shape took only an hour to make since he had help from a specialized printer. Tachi stated, "It's so easy due to the simplicity of the structure and design which is inspired by origami principle."

Tachi also showed a time-lapse of himself folding a paper rabbit, which took him nearly 10 hours.

Self-Assembling Robot

If you are a fan of the movie "Transformers" then you might have known this term self-assembling robot.

Well, a bunch of MIT and Harvard researchers has designed something that is similar at its core: "a robot that can assemble itself". Quite fascinating right!

They predominantly used the origami techniques here, initially, all the materials for the machine are quite flat, and they can fold to create a device that can move on its own and make turns.

"The fully developed machine takes approximately four minutes to assemble itself", stated by researchers.

This concept of automation could also be used to automate the steps used in manufacturing industries.

Never underestimate the paper-folding art! Paper is not just for making dragons and rabbits. If you know the correct techniques and methods you can pave way for wonderful innovative scientific creations!

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