Origami can be a powerful source of design inspiration in the creation of reconfigurable systems with unparalleled performance. This thesis provides fundamental tools for designers to employ as origami-based designs are pursued in their respective fields of expertise. The first chapter introduces origami and makes connections between origami and engineering design through a survey of engineered applications and characterizing the relationship between origami and compliant mechanisms. The second chapter evaluates the creasing of non-paper sheet materials, such as plastics and metals, to facilitate origami-based compliant mechanism design. Although it is anticipated that most origami-based design will result from surrogate folds (indirect methods of replacing the crease), it is valuable to provide information that may help in more direct approaches for origami-based design in materials other than paper. Planar sheets of homogeneous material are considered as they maintain the principles fundamental to origami (flat initial state, low cost, readily available). The reduced stiffness along the axis of the crease is an enabling characteristic of origami. Hence a metric based on the deformation of the crease compared to the deformation of the panels enables engineering materials to be evaluated based on their ability to achieve the "hinge-like" behavior observed in folded paper. Advantages of both high and low values of this metric are given. Testing results (hinge indexes, residual angles, localized hinge behavior and cyclic creasing to failure) are presented for various metals and polymers. This methodology and subsequent findings are provided to enable origami-based design of compliant mechanisms. The third chapter proposes a basic terminology for origami-based design and presents areas of considerations for cases where the final engineering design is directly related to a crease pattern. This framework for navigating from paper art to engineered products begins once the crease pattern has been selected for a given application. The four areas of consideration are discussed: 1) rigid foldability 2) crease characterization 3) material properties and dimensions and 4) manufacturing. Two examples are concurrently presented to illustrate these considerations: a backpack shell and a shroud for an adjustable C-Arm x-ray device used in hospitals. The final chapter provides concluding remarks on origami-based design.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





origami-based design, folded design, hinge index, origami-adapted design, compliant mechanisms