Origami is making an impact in engineering as solutions to problems are being found by applying origami principles (eg. flat-foldability) and using specific crease patterns as inspiration. This thesis presents an in-depth analysis of a particular origami fold -- the waterbomb base -- to facilitate its use in future engineering problems. The watebomb base is of interest due to its familiarity to the origami community, simple topology (can be made by folding a single sheet of paper four times), scalability, generalizability, and interesting kinetic behavior. It can behave as a nonlinear spring as well as a one- or two-way bistable mechanism. This thesis presents models of the kinetic behavior of the traditional waterbomb base as well as some non-traditional variants to be used as tools in future development of waterbomb-base-inspired mechanisms. In all cases considered here, developability as well as rotational symmetry in both the geometry and motion of the mechanisms are assumed. The thesis provides an introduction to origami and reviews some of the ways in which it has been studied and applied in engineering fields. The waterbomb base is also presented as a specific origami fold with practical application potential. Models for the behavior of the traditional waterbomb base are introduced and its potential usefulness as a testbed for actuation methods is discussed. Models are developed for its kinematic and bistable behavior, including the forces needed to transition between stable states. These models are validated by comparison to physical prototype testing and finite element analysis. The thesis introduces the generalized waterbomb base (WB) and generalized split-fold waterbomb base (SFWB). The WB maintains the pattern of alternating mountain and valley folds around the vertex but in this generalized case any even number of folds greater than or equal to 6 is allowed. An SFWB is created by splitting each fold of a WB into two “half folds”, effectively doubling the number of folds and links but halving the deflection at each fold. The same models that were developed for the traditional waterbomb base are developed for the WB and the SFWB and a few potential applications are discussed.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





origami-based mechanism, waterbomb base, bistable mechanism, smart material test bed