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Japanese paper-folding art creates switches that, when placed in a group on a single board, can serve as a type of mechanical memory — ScienceDaily


The ancient Japanese art of paper folding, known as origami, can be used to create mechanical, binary switches.

In Applied Physics Letters, by AIP Publishing, researchers report the fabrication of such a paper device using a particular origami pattern known as the Kresling pattern. This device can act as a mechanical switch.

By putting several of these together on a single platform, the investigators built a functioning mechanical memory board.

Origami structures can be either rigid or nonrigid. For the first type, only the creases between panels of paper can deform, but the panels stay fixed. In nonrigid origami, however, the panels themselves can deform.

The Kresling pattern is an example of nonrigid origami. Folding a piece of paper using this pattern generates a bellowslike structure that can flip between one orientation and another. The bellows act as a type of spring and can be controlled by vibrating a platform that holds the bellows. This creates a switch, which the investigators refer to as a Kresling-inspired mechanical switch, or KIMS.

The researchers found that oscillating a platform holding the KIMS up and down at a certain speed will cause it to flip, or switch, between its two stable states.

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Materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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