Curved folding construction techniques

New ways of getting beyond 2D
Curved fold by Yoshinobu Miyamoto
One of the things I love about digital fabrication is the process of elevating 3D forms from 2D materials. “2D materials” – anything that comes in a sheet – have all kinds of inherent efficiencies in terms of modelling, manufacturing, transport, and assembly, but it takes a certain amount of mental gymnastics to translate them into 3D objects. I stumbled across this image today and it opened up a fascinating new world for me – a construction technique known as curved folding.

The model above is made by Yoshinobu Miyamoto (flickr | interview), an architect and teacher at Aichi Institute of Technology in Japan. In researching the background of this model, I came across Curved Folding: a network of more than 300 members working together to create an open CAD standard for representing and modelling curved folding geometries.

folded furniture by Ran AmataiSome of the gems I found in the Curved Folding network include Ran Amatai: a designer who creates aluminium furniture using a combination of strict linear creases and organic curving folds, utilising both the material’s rigidity and malleability.

Gregory Epps, the founder of the Curved Folding site, also runs Robofold, a fabrication facility for folding metal sheet using industrial robotic arms. If you happen to be in London with a spare £800 you can take a 4-day workshop where he will take you through the process from paper experimentation to CAD modelling to final metal construction.

I’m on holiday for the next two weeks but when I get back I’m going to start playing with some of these folding techniques to see what I can create by laser-engraving some of the thin materials on offer here at Ponoko.

These free software tools from Tomohiro Tachi look like an ideal place to start simulating these folded models.

p.s. bonus link – how to fold a map that will never get messed up: the Miura fold

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