Foldable structures exist in biological systems like leaves and insect wings to reinforce thin structures or to reduce pack sizes. For example, the stiffness of palm trees is increased by folds and insect wings can accomplish complex motions due to folding mechanisms.
Although the principle of folding is widespread in nature, it has by far not been fully exploited in technical applications. Nevertheless, folded structures have proven excellent performance in engineering for example building parts, implants, stents, airbags or space telescopes.
Worldwide, single expertises in the field of foldable structures exist, but there is no linking between the knowledge of different scientific fields. The aim of this project consists in creating an approach using the existing knowledge within this university and to establish a new competence centre for folding at RWTH Aachen University. Participant institutes are the Institute of Geometry and Applied Mathematics (IGPM), Institute of Computer Science 8, Graphics & Multimedia (I8), Chair of Structures and Structural Design (TRAKO), Institute of Applied Mechanics (IFAM), Department for Mechanism Theory and Dynamics of Machines (IGM), Institute of Textile Technology and Chair for Textile Machinery (ITA), Department of Continuum Mechanics (LFKM), Institute of Metal Forming (IBF), Research Group for Management and Business-to-Business Marketing and the Department of Applied Medical Engineering (AME).
The technical and economic potential of folded designs should be determined and the basics for the design of these structures should be compiled. First, existing folded designs in natural sciences and different technical disciplines are analyzed and then theoretical basics are affiliated. Simulation models for a geometrical and mechanical description of these structures are developed. Based on these results, adapted synthesis methods are generated.