How Origami is Inspiring Scientific Creativity, with BYU and Origami Artist Robert Lang

How Origami is Inspiring Scientific Creativity, with BYU and Origami Artist Robert Lang


It all started with a flat sheet of paper. No one knows how the ancient art of
origami began. But centuries ago in ancient Japan, they brought paper to life. How could they
imagine that the paper crane and dragon would
transform modern-day science and take flight in a new century. With
roots in the 16th century, origami reemerged in the nineteen fifties. As a revolutionary Japanese artist, Akira Yoshizawa inspired a new generation of not only artists but also
scientists. You had folks who took up origami as
a hobby, but were also in the scientific world
asking the questions that mathematicians and scientists do. How can I describe this concept mathematically? But also mathematical design techniques that you
develop can be used for art in for technology. So people could
turn right around and use those same techniques to design folding structures
whose purpose was not aesthetic but was function. There’s been literally
centuries of work by these artists doing prototypes in
a very cheap material a paper, and discovered motions that we would not
have discovered using traditional engineering approaches. Once they understood the mathematics
behind the art, engineers could you use origami
designs and movement to solve problems. In engineering terms origami is a compliant mechanism.
So a compliant mechanism is the device gets its motion from things like bending
and deflection instead of hinges and bearings. Origami then by nature is compliant
because all of those folding hinges are relying on the flexibility in the
paper. Although many origami designs are hundred of years old, engineers must
adapt paper designs two more rigid and durable materials,
using basic folds and abstract forms as inspiration. Some of the devices it’s harder to see the
origami. For example in one device, the origami helped us understand how
to get the motion. But if you were to see the actual device,
you wouldn’t actually see much of the origami. It’s 3D printed out
titanium. Folding transformations from small to large in particular, are very useful ideas,
especially in space research. You have something that quite often
needs to be big, very often needs to be flat or sheet like, but
the only way of getting it into space is to send it up in a rocket, and rockets have very limited space. And the nice thing with a lot of origami, is you can make it very compact for launch and as you get into space it
can deploy and be very large. I’m working on an origami inspired
deployable solar array for spacecraft. The spacecraft
would be inside a rocket, like an Atlas 5 rocket, and the
solar array would wrap around the outside of the spacecraft. It would be all folded up compactly and then launched into space and deployed. By using origami principles, we can get a much larger
array into space by stowing it compactly during launch and then opening it up once we’re in space. Because mathematical formulas can be scaled to any size, origami inspired designs are useful in many disciplines, including
electronics and medicine. Based on kirigami, a variation of origami utilized in
pop-up books, this four micrometer thick nano-injector is a microscopic compliant mechanism developed for gene therapy to deliver
DNA cells. 400 nan-injectors could fit onto a single one centimeter square computer chip. I think the biggest thing to learn from
this kind research is that you can find inspiration for designs from anything. If you’re open to inspiration
from any of these sources then your creativity is not limited. It all started with a flat sheet of paper. Now to do origami inspired design, it has been transformed, reimagined, elevated but still reminiscent of an ancient art form. Origami having deep roots as an ancient art would think
that as a field of exploration, it would have been
played out long ago. But the opposite is true. It’s as vibrant and growing as ever. As we look
to the future there are no limits on the horizon
either artistically or now in this new technological
area in the applications of origami inspired design.

20 thoughts on “How Origami is Inspiring Scientific Creativity, with BYU and Origami Artist Robert Lang

  1. Splendid presentation! I do a little origami, but have not graduated to using solid materials. It is fascinating to me all that can be done!

  2. Met a guy in a store in
    Costa Rica, some Origami works laid out on his desk, both with Origami background, made friends and now. exchange via messenger, new projects on Origami. Lots of fun. Good video guys!

  3. my teacher told me to watch this for my half term homework but how would this help my terrible origami skills

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