Triangular Origami

My research starts with the art of origami folding with paper and continues to investigates the techniques of kinetic folding with thickened materials. I find it interesting how easily a paper is folded into an origami shape, which can be folded and unfolded easily. Throughout my design research I would like to find an easy way of folding a wooden structure.

Thickness plays a large role in folding paper. It can be observed with simple folding of a sheet of paper, the more it is folded the more difficult it gets to fold it. The traditional origami is done using paper. It can be observed that after folding paper too many times, it losses its folding ability. Most origami rely on the fibers locate within the paper, and their ability to bend and stretch slightly during the fold. That is why the thicker the paper or the material used the more difficult it is to bend it.


The folding technique using a thin membrane, like fabric, to imitate the behaviour of the hinge joint is used. The membrane is treated as a zero-thickens element, hence it behaves in a similar manner to paper origami. For a 180 degree fold the gap between panels equals to 2 times the thickness of the panel, however if the desired angle is smaller, that distance can decrease.

That investigation led to creating a triangular grid representing the possibilities of the membrane technique.


Reduction of the size of the triangle in the grid, creates higher number of bend axis. However by doing so, clash points are created, in places where the new grid wants to bend, and the old one has no chamfer to accommodate it. Because of that the first row of the reduced grid, behaves in a similar way to its bigger neighbour.

The fabrication process involves the use of a CNC machine. The fist step is to prepare a digital file and using a using a CNC machine cut out all the pieces. The edges are then sanded and arranged according to their size. The pieces are places on a calico canvas and attached to it using a PVA glue. The fabric is then cut to size and the edges are rolled to avoid ripping.


Fabric used for the final model is calico canvas. It is a plain-woven textile made from cotton. It is undyed and unfinished. The fabric worked much better than the synthetic mesh used for the initial prototypes. Also it is more resistant to breaking than the Garden Weed Control Fabric, which with time tends to tear apart.


The model shows that the smaller the size of the triangles the better more flexible the structure becomes. This technique can be used in creating shelters, as well as, sculptural pieces.