Folding techniques derived from the ancient Japanese art form origami are being utilized to create new products with diverse morphologies. The capability of converting a planar material into a 3-D structure with origami designs by external or self-assembly has created a market for individualized product shapes and sizes. Basic hardware applications are rapidly diversifying, but physical properties of available materials limit applications. For instance, wearable technology has encountered hurdles in the attempt to create small, flexible visual displays. Standard visual displays such as electrophoretic displays, Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) are currently unable to be integrated into origami manufacturing techniques due to material incompatibility which causes cross-contamination and heat damage.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a manufacturing process that takes advantage of origami structures, while avoiding physical limitations of materials. Previous attempts used a single tiered design process. This process uses two separate process flows to construct the product. Rigid parallelogram shapes are attached to soft, foldable creases using an innovative manufacturing process. After fabrication, the pieces are integrated to create 3-D structures with complex morphologies. Combination of soft and hard materials allows manufacturers greater freedom when designing products. Air and moisture tight sealing on creases helps to decrease electrical damage. Pieces and creases can be manufactured to fit a multitude of specifications.
- Wearable consumer electronics with flexible screen displays
- Visual display additions to current products manufactured using origami techniques
- Space Exploration which uses electronics in satellite applications
- Light-up displays for medical applications of origami products
- Flexible, stretchable, foldable structures with visual displays
Benefits and Advantages
- Lower Costs – Requires little plant retooling and works within modern manufacturing technologies.
- Product Longevity - Air and moisture sealing eliminates a major source of environmental wear.
- Portability - Allows electronics and displays to be condensed into a smaller area.
- Flexibility - Provides engineers with the ability to design electronic devices in new and unique arrangements.
- Functionality - Integration of soft and hard materials enables productswith more precise morphological design.
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