Self-folding with shape memory composites at the millimeter scale

S. M. Felton, K. P. Becker, D. M. Aukes, R. J. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Self-folding is an effective method for creating 3D shapes from flat sheets. In particular, shape memory composites - laminates containing shape memory polymers - have been used to self-fold complex structures and machines. To date, however, these composites have been limited to feature sizes larger than one centimeter. We present a new shape memory composite capable of folding millimeter-scale features. This technique can be activated by a global heat source for simultaneous folding, or by resistive heaters for sequential folding. It is capable of feature sizes ranging from 0.5 to 40 mm, and is compatible with multiple laminate compositions. We demonstrate the ability to produce complex structures and mechanisms by building two self-folding pieces: a model ship and a model bumblebee.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number085004
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • laminate mechanisms
  • origami-inspired
  • self-assembly
  • self-folding
  • shape memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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