Design and numerical analysis of an SMA mesh-based self-folding sheet Academic Article uri icon


  • Origami engineering, which is the practice of creating useful three-dimensional structures through folding and fold-like operations applied to initially two-dimensional entities, has the potential to impact several areas of design and manufacturing. In some instances, however, it may be impractical to apply external manipulations to produce the desired folds (e.g., as in remote applications such as space systems). In such cases, self-folding capabilities are valuable. A self-folding material or material system is one that can perform folding operations without manipulations from external forces. This work considers a concept for a self-folding material system. The system extends the 'programmable matter' concept and consists of an active, self-morphing sheet composed of two meshes of thermally actuated shape memory alloy (SMA) wire separated by a compliant passive layer. The geometric and power input parameters of the self-folding sheet are optimized to achieve the tightest local fold possible subject to stress and temperature constraints. The sheet folding performance considering folds at different angles relative to the orientation of the wire mesh is also analyzed. The optimization results show that a relatively low elastomer thickness is preferable to generate the tightest fold possible. The results also show that the self-folding sheet does not require large power inputs to achieve an optimal folding performance. It was shown that the self-folding sheet is capable of creating similar quality folds at different orientations. 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Peraza-Hernandez, E. A., Hartl, D. J., & Malak, R.

citation count

  • 45

complete list of authors

  • Peraza-Hernandez, Edwin A||Hartl, Darren J||Malak, Richard J Jr

publication date

  • September 2013