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IIT-K experts use origami to make lightweight resilient materials

By Chandan Kumar
UPDATED ON FEB 13, 2020 12:02 AM IST

Lucknow Spacecraft will be able to accommodate more satellites in near future, thanks to origami – the traditional Japanese art of folding paper.

A team of IIT-Kanpur researchers is using this technique to design lightweight resilient materials with usage ranging from making foldable satellites to better medical implants.

“A plain paper can be used to make a boat, a flower or a plane just by varying the way you fold it, in origami. We are using these properties of origami to make structures, based on their requirement,” said Prof Tanmoy Mukhopadhyay, who is leading the research.

His team is also collaborating with experts of Oxford University and a group of academicians from China and Australia.

Under the project, the researchers have used different kind of folds used in origami to make artificially engineered materials. By doing so, they have managed to design materials of varying properties.

Versatility of origami design and ease of altering it pushed the team to focus on designing these materials, said Tanmoy.

The researchers have also published a paper recently highlighting their findings of tests conducted on materials developed using these techniques.

“We have managed to show that the shape and stiffness of the material can be altered using the origami based micro-structural geometry and the extent of applied far-field actuation. Materials could be made with a near-zero value to an extreme rise in the stiffness. This was achieved in a single material using origami,” explained Tanmoy.

The research paper was published last year.

“The aim is to develop ultimate lightweight materials with use in aerospace, robotics and even medicine,” Tanmoy said. While Tanmoy is heading the research of finding use of these materials in aerospace, other groups are finding ways to use it in other sectors.

“We are currently working on developing artificially engineered materials that can be used in airplanes to make them lighter. This can find use in both civil, military and space missions,” said Tanmoy.

The research on designing materials based on origami structure is becoming popular across the globe in recent years. The research has become advanced abroad over the years but our country is also catching up with it fast, he informed.

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