UBC Undergraduate Research

Robotic origami Niu, Jianxing; Peng, Tess; Wang, Vicky


The Robotic Origami project is sponsored by Dr. James Olson at the University of British Columbia for ENPH 479 Winter 2012. The scope of the project is to incorporate electronic circuits onto paper and produce an environment sensitive origami showpiece that is composed of about 80% of paper based products. The design should be artistic in visual appearance, cheap and easily mass producible with the ideal of becoming a consumer product. The group explored different methods for placing electric circuits onto paper such as printing with conductive ink, drawing circuits on paper with Bare Paint and using copper tape to attach electronic components onto paper. Each technique has its advantages and drawbacks. For example, the most promising technology, namely conductive ink, turns out to be printing on a plastic sheet instead of paper, rendering itself undesirable for origami. Nevertheless, this technology is demonstrated in a circuit for driving LEDs on a Christmas tree. The Bare Paint technology is used in a paper based piano. A significant amount of time is spent on incorporating Flexinol, a type of Shape Memory Alloy (SMA), with origami designs. The methods for attaching Flexinol have been limited to taping and sewing the wires directly onto the paper surface, which severely limited the geometry in which the Flexinol could flex. Thus Flexinol, while being strong and powerful in terms of force per weight, may not provide enough pull force to a piece of origami for noticeable motion. For instance, six methods of incorporating Flexinol with magic ball origami are implemented and found to be ineffective. In the end, a piece of robotic dragon origami is made, which can sense ambient light, sound and touch and respond by actuating the Flexinol to move its wings or tail and play a short piece of music. Interactive Fingers that implement the Flexinol and capacitive touch sensors are also produced. We believe that robotic origami is of great interest and potential and it is worthwhile for future group to further investigate relevant technologies and apply to other paper products. Specifically ideas such as: incorporating Flexinol in different geometries to paper, exploring the use of paper-based sensors and printable batteries and explore substrates that printers can print onto paper instead of plastic are noteworthy.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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