Thin sheets can be assembled into origami tubes to create a variety of deployable, reconfigurable and mechanistically unique three-dimensional structures. We introduce and explore origami tubes with polygonal, translational symmetric cross-sections that can reconfigure into numerous geometries. The tubular structures satisfy the mathematical definitions for flat and rigid foldability, meaning that they can fully unfold from a flattened state with deformations occurring only at the fold lines. The tubes do not need to be straight and can be constructed to follow a non-linear curved line when deployed. The cross-section and kinematics of the tubular structures can be reprogrammed by changing the direction of folding at some folds. We discuss the variety of tubular structures that can be conceived and we show limitations that govern the geometric design. We quantify the global stiffness of the origami tubes through eigenvalue and structural analyses and highlight the mechanical characteristics of these systems. The two-scale nature of this work indicates that, from a local viewpoint, the cross-sections of the polygonal tubes are reconfigurable while, from a global viewpoint, deployable tubes of desired shapes are achieved. This class of tubes has potential applications ranging from pipes and micro-robotics to deployable architecture in buildings.
- Received August 27, 2015.
- Accepted December 22, 2015.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.