About Dartmouth Computer Science
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Prof. Devin Balkcom
Thin materials like sheet metal, paper, and cardboard are lightweight, inexpensive, and can be stored and shipped in bulk. Folding allows the construction of semi-rigid 3-D structures, including fast-food containers, paper bags, and file cabinets. Folding can also allow a single large surface or chain to be stored in a small volume; motivating examples include car airbags, space-telescope mirrors, and proteins. Finally, folding allows reconfiguration, without the need for disassembly and reassembly.
We have built the first origami-folding robot (left), capable of folding a paper hat, paper airplane, and paper cup. We have also analyzed more complicated folding techniques; work with Erik and Martin Demaine questions whether ordinary paper shopping bags can be mathematically folded.