UBC student creates self-folding paper origami (VIDEO)

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Image: Martin Dee

UBC mechanical engineering student Ata Sina has developed a way to have a piece of paper fold by itself – all it needs is polymer, heat and precise cuts and folds on a piece of paper.

Sina wanted to integrate his passion for art and engineering by putting the two together, so he developed a new computer program that allowed him to channel his creativity further.

Image: Martin Dee

Image: Martin Dee

“Polymers are commonly used in the packaging industry. The objective of my project is to use green materials, by replacing plastic and with paper and other green materials,” said Sina.

By using a computer program to carefully cut out paper and add precise creases, polymer is then added to the paper and placed inside an oven, typically at 110°C for up to 20 seconds. Alternatively, a hairdryer can replicate the effects of an oven by applying direct heat on the paper origami.

Image: Heather Amos

Image: UBC Public Affairs

With just a little bit of heat, the polymer starts shrinking, making the paper that was once flat ‘come to life’ – transforming into a 3D model.

He explained that he sees a lot of potential in the traditional Japanese art of folding paper as it highlights unique structures and designs in our everyday life.

Currently, Sina is working on a children’s book with pages that can be torn out and heated to take different shapes and forms, emphasizing the uniqueness of geometry.

Image: Heather Amos

Image: UBC Public Affairs

“Imagine being able to go to a furniture store and purchasing a 2D paper type product that could be heated and transformed into a chandelier or lamp,” he said.

On a larger scale, Sina is working on developing self-folding paper that can withstand a significant amount of weight, such as beds and other types of furniture.

Image: Martin Dee

Image: Martin Dee

“Right now, I’m working on my thesis at UBC, however, later we plan on thinking about marketing and funding to carry out industrial application,” said Sina. 

A video of Sina’s shape shifting paper:

 

Feature Image: Martin Dee

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Roshini Sakhrani Editorial Intern at Vancity Buzz
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