Pneumatic Origami

Odds are that if you’ve been to the beach or gone camping or somewhere in between, you are familiar with inflatable products like air mattresses. It’s nothing spectacular to see a rectangle inflate into a thicker, more comfortable¬†rectangle, but what if your air mattress inflated into the shape of a crane?

We’ve seen similar ideas in quadcopters and robots using more mechanical means, but this is method uses air instead. To make this possible, the [Tangible Media Group] out of [MIT’s Media Lab] have developed aeroMorph — a program that allows the user to design inflatable constructs from paper, plastic or fabric with careful placement of a few folding joints.

These designs are exported and imprinted onto the medium by a cartesian coordinate robot using a heat-sealing attachment. Different channels allow the medium to fold in multiple directions depending on where the air is flowing, so this is a bit more complicated than, say, a bouncy castle. That, and it’s not often you see paper folding itself. Check it out!

The [Tangible Media Group] envisions applications in wearables, automatic packaging, and robotics, but really we’d like to see this technology fold up a fitted bed sheet for us.

[via This Is Colossal]

11 thoughts on “Pneumatic Origami

  1. Exceedingly clever. Recent headlines make me wonder if you could use this technique to mass-produce emergency shelters for areas hit by earthquakes or hurricanes. Send them out flat packed, pump in air, and you would be done. Of course, in the case of hurricanes you would have to peg them down so they didn’t blow away.

  2. Oh man, that machine looks buildable!

    I don’t know that I would ever get so far into the artistic side as they have (not that it isn’t cool) but I will be daydreaming the rest of this day about having a lifetime supply of inflatable kyaks and beds for the price of occasionally buying a roll of vinyl.

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