Origami is an ancient art that is still providing joy and amusement to people today. Also called paper folding, it typically involves taking a single sheet of paper and making a series of folds to create various shapes. Common themes for origami creations include animals, insects, flowers, hats, and boxes. Origami’s influence, however, extends further than the art world and simple entertainment. It has inspired many amazing high-tech solutions in the real world. Let’s take a look at some of these creative ways origami has been employed.
An Out-of-This-World Use
When technology is transported into space for scientific investigation, the size of the equipment is important. That is, larger items require bigger and heavier rockets, which cost more to fuel. When NASA’s mechanical engineer Brian Trease was designing solar panels, he remembered his experience of studying origami during an educational trip to Japan in high school. He thought that by using similar folding techniques to those found in the Japanese art form, he could make solar panels smaller and easier to transport. This allowed him to develop a solar panel that could fold down to under three meters yet fold out to 25 meters. Researchers said Trease’s ideas could be used to fly solar panels to space in order to collect energy and send it back down to Earth.
Origami designs are also being used to help researchers trap sea creatures several hundred meters beneath the ocean’s surface. Using an origami-type creation, scientists have come up with a device that can gently trap sea creatures by folding around them like a hand. There is a lot of excitement about this technology because it could be used to catch sea animals as deep as 11 kilometers, which will allow scientists to study them closely.