Fold, Spindle, Mutate

Fold, Spindle, Mutate

UBC Pulp and Paper Centre | Faculty of Applied Science
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The intricate art of origami – and the international world of cost-effective packaging and insulation– have been folded into one by Ata Sina, UBC mechanical engineering student, creator of ‘self-folding’ paper and what could be tomorrow’s packaging of choice.

Rather than just lay there, when uniformly heated to about 110 degrees Celsius for 10 to 20 seconds, Sina’s paper creations rears up and neatly shape-shifts into the desired and often complex three-dimensional shape or structure.

The magic is in the making: the computer program oversees precise small cuts and creases made in the base paper, and the application of special thermoplastic polymers. When heated, the polymers shrink, contract and lift the paper into the required shape.

Shipped flat for easy transport and then formed into a light, strong structure suitable for protecting fragile contents and made of sustainable paper instead of plastic, Sina says the potential for this “unique and novel method” could extend beyond packaging and into noise/heat insulation, folding furniture, toys and children’s do-it-yourself books.

As a child, Sina was enchanted by origami. Today, this fascination has gone full circle, globe, cube or wherever your imagination takes you: “While the engineering is amazing, art satisfies my personal interest and the combination of art and science drew me to his project.”

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When heated, the polymers shrink, contract and lift the paper into the required shape.


Photo Credit: Don Erhardt
Photo Credit: Martin Dee


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