Introduction: Origami Flasher

About: The BYU Compliant Mechanisms Research Group (CMR) involves students and faculty who strive to make an impact by creating compliant mechanism theories and applications that are novel, used by others, and make a…

Did you know that origami has influenced space exploration? Rockets have a limited amount of space inside them, meaning it can be difficult to get large objects out into orbit. Something like the 25-meter solar array shown above would be impossible to safely store inside a rocket at full size!

This origami pattern solves this problem by allowing the array to be stowed compactly during launch, then unfolded to its full size once in space. Additionally, since the pieces of the folded design are all connected, electrical circuits can run throughout, allowing for power generation from the panels.

For more information on the design of the solar panel, see these publications:

Zirbel, Shannon A., et al. "Accommodating thickness in origami-based deployable arrays." Journal of Mechanical Design 135.11 (2013): 111005.

Lang, Robert J., Spencer Magleby, and Larry Howell. "Single-degree-of-freedom rigidly foldable origami flashers." ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference. American Society of Mechanical Engineers Digital Collection, 2016.

This Instructable will show you how to make your own paper model of this flasher pattern, which unfolds to nearly 50 times its compacted surface area!




Flasher pattern

Step 1: Print

Print or copy the fold pattern onto a piece of paper.

Step 2: Cut

Cut along the outer edges of the square pattern.

Step 3: Crease the Pattern

Using the line colors as a guide, fold along the crease lines:

Blue lines = mountain folds

Red lines = valley folds

It is easiest to focus on one fourth of the pattern at a time, and work your way around. Use the images above to help you, or use the PDF version below.

Step 4: Collapse the Pattern

Carefully compact the paper from the outside edges, letting the existing creases guide you to the final state. The outside edges should almost do a 180° from where they were in the unfolded state.

Step 5: Open the Pattern

Now, pull on the corners of the paper and watch it expand!

You can re-collapse the pattern and expand it as many times as you would like.