Origami tubes can hold weight, fold flat

Posted at 9:45 PM, Sep 16, 2015

This isn’t your typical origami.

In fact, a new paper folding  arrangement could have quite the impact on structural engineering.

Researchers from three big universities have developed what they call a "zippered tube" configuration.

It creates paper structures you can fold flat, but are strong enough to also hold weight.

Researchers say this zippered tube approach can also be applied to other thin materials, like plastic or metal.

This technique uses precise, zig zag folded strips of paper glued together to make a tube. Researchers then interlocked tubes in a zipper-like fashion to make them stiffer and harder to twist or bend.

“The geometry is what really plays a role,” said Glaucio Paulino, a Georgia Tech professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in a press release. “We are putting two tubes together in a strange way. What we want is a structure that is flexible and stiff at the same time. This is just paper, but it has tremendous stiffness.”  

The team notes the potential for quick assembly of emergency shelters, bridges and other structures after a natural disaster.

Check out more about their work here.