Self-folding origami: Shape memory composites activated by uniform heating

Michael T. Tolley, Samuel M. Felton, Shuhei Miyashita, Daniel Aukes, Daniela Rus, Robert J. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Scopus citations


Self-folding is an approach used frequently in nature for the efficient fabrication of structures, but is seldom used in engineered systems. Here, self-folding origami are presented, which consist of shape memory composites that are activated with uniform heating in an oven. These composites are rapidly fabricated using inexpensive materials and tools. The folding mechanism based on the in-plane contraction of a sheet of shape memory polymer is modeled, and parameters for the design of composites that self-fold into target shapes are characterized. Four self-folding shapes are demonstrated: a cube, an icosahedron, a flower, and a Miura pattern; each of which is activated in an oven in less than 4 min. Self-sealing is also investigated using hot melt adhesive, and the resulting structures are found to bear up to twice the load of unsealed structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094006
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • origami
  • rapid fabrication
  • self-assembly
  • self-folding
  • shape memory polymers
  • smart materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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