Japanese Papercraft Inspires Advances in Engineering

Kirigami (切り紙) is a style of Japanese paper folding that, unlike origami, includes cutting the paper, rather than solely folding the paper as is the case with origami. A team from Northwestern Engineering published a research piece on microstructures and nanotools, finding their inspiration in a seemingly unlikely place: kirigami.

‘Kirigami Engineering—Nanoscale Structures Exhibiting a Range of Controllable 3D Configurations’, was published in Advanced Materials in December, by a team led by Horacio Espinosa, the James N. and Nancy J. Farley Professor in Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship in the McCormick School of Engineering.

“By combining nanomanufacturing, in situ microscopy experimentation, and computational modeling, we unraveled the rich behavior of kirigami structures and identified conditions for their use in practical applications,” Espinosa said.

This publication builds on earlier research on ‘kirigami cuts’, – ‘A kirigami approach to engineering elasticity in nanocomposites through patterned defects’, published in 2015 in Nature.

Saving time, money, and mistakes

The engineered kirigami structures could be employed in several applications ranging from microscale grippers (such as are used in delicate eye surgery) to flow control in airplane wings. These capabilities position the technique for potential applications in such diverse fields as biomedical devices, energy harvesting, and aerospace.

The ability to design cut locations and predict structural behavior based on computer simulations takes out trial and error, saving money and time in the process.

Source: Japanese Art Style Inspires New Engineering Technique

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