WATCH: Origami’s Creative Engineering Applications

by . October 3rd, 2015

When one says origami, what comes to mind are the Japanese thousand paper cranes.


Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. Historically, origami has been limited to ceremonial purposes. One such example is the traditional butterfly design used in Shinto weddings.

Today, origami has become accessible to a lot of people, learning the traditional Japanese folds and building up on them to create complex creations. It has become a relaxing hobby for some, myself included:


This was a complex fold. (Model by Fumiaki Kawahata.)

But there is another uncanny application—engineering.

Researchers Evgueni T. Filipova, Tomohiro Tachib, and Glaucio H. Paulino created a “zippered tube” that folds flat yet expands to a rigid structure that can hold weight normal paper couldn’t.

The secret lies on the particular zig-zag pattern they developed. Watch the explanation below:

Of course this isn’t the only application of origami.

In astronomy, artificial satellites use the Miura fold developed by Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura. It consists of clever parallelograms that could fold it flat without taking a lot of space and unfolds by just pulling the opposite ends apart.


The model is quite useful especially in deploying solar panels in space by just using a few motors, greatly reducing weight and complexity.

There are plenty of untapped applications for origami concepts. Let’s see how the story unfolds. Hah! Get it?


Sorry. Here’s a rose for you. (Model by Naomiki Sato)

Ever tried origami? Comment below!


Kevin is a reader first, a writer second, and a gamer somewhere in between. When not rooting for Tyrion Lannister for the Iron Throne, he's probably writing some morbid short story. He enjoys some surreal art, clever advertising campaigns, and a warm cup of coffee while reading Murakami.