Folding to Curved Surfaces : A Generalized Design Method and Mechanics of Origami-based Cylindrical Structures

Fei WANG, Haoran GONG, Xi CHEN, C. Q. CHEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Origami structures enrich the field of mechanical metamaterials with the ability to convert morphologically and systematically between two-dimensional (2D) thin sheets and three-dimensional (3D) spatial structures. In this study, an in-plane design method is proposed to approximate curved surfaces of interest with generalized Miura-ori units. Using this method, two combination types of crease lines are unified in one reprogrammable procedure, generating multiple types of cylindrical structures. Structural completeness conditions of the finite-thickness counterparts to the two types are also proposed. As an example of the design method, the kinematics and elastic properties of an origami-based circular cylindrical shell are analysed. The concept of Poisson's ratio is extended to the cylindrical structures, demonstrating their auxetic property. An analytical model of rigid plates linked by elastic hinges, consistent with numerical simulations, is employed to describe the mechanical response of the structures. Under particular load patterns, the circular shells display novel mechanical behaviour such as snap-through and limiting folding positions. By analysing the geometry and mechanics of the origami structures, we extend the design space of mechanical metamaterials and provide a basis for their practical applications in science and engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33312
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 11472149) and the Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program (No. 2014z22074). X. C. acknowledges additional support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (11172231, 11372241 and 11572238), Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (DE-AR0000396) and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-12-1-0159).

Publisher Copyright: © 2016 The Author(s).


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