Plasticity-induced origami for assembly of three dimensional metallic structures guided by compressive buckling

Yan Shi, Fan Zhang, Kewang Nan, Xueju Wang, Juntong Wang, Yijie Zhang, Yutong Zhang, Haiwen Luan, Keh Chih Hwang, Yonggang Huang, John A. Rogers*, Yihui Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Development of origami-inspired routes to assembly of three dimensional structures is an area of growing activity in scientific and engineering research communities due to fundamental interest in mathematical topics in topology and to the potential for practical applications in areas ranging from advanced surgical tools to systems for space exploration. Recently reported approaches that exploit the controlled, compressive buckling of 2D precursors induced by dimensional change in an underlying elastomer support offer broad versatility in material selection (from polymers to device grade semiconductors), feature sizes (from centimeters to nanometers), topological forms (open frameworks to closed form polyhedra) and shape controllability (dynamic tuning of shape), thereby establishing a promising avenue to autonomic assembly of complex 3D systems. Localization of origami-like folding deformations at targeted regions can be achieved through the use of engineered, spatial variations in the thicknesses of the 2D precursors. While this approach offers high levels of control in the targeted formation of creases, creating the necessary thickness variations requires a set of additional processing steps in the fabrication. This paper presents an alternative, and complementary, approach that exploits controlled plastic deformation in the precursors, as validated in a comprehensive set of experimental and theoretical studies. Specifically, plasticity and strain localization can be used to dramatically reduce the bending stiffness at targeted regions, to form well-defined creases as mountain or valley folds during the 2D to 3D geometrical transformation process. The content begins with studies of a model system that consists of a 2D precursor in the form of a straight ribbon with reduced widths at certain sections. The results illustrate the important role of plasticity in the course of folding, in such a manner that dictates the final 3D layouts. A broad range of complex 3D shapes, achieved in both the millimeter-scale and the mesoscale structures (i.e. micron to sub-millimeter), demonstrate the power of these ideas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalExtreme Mechanics Letters
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • 3D metallic structures
  • Buckling
  • Origami assembly
  • Plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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