Technical Origami With ORIPA, FreeForm Origami and SolidWorks - TfCD TU Delft




Introduction: Technical Origami With ORIPA, FreeForm Origami and SolidWorks - TfCD TU Delft

This Instructable will explain how you can design your own origami pattern and export this to SolidWorks. Origami is mainly known as an artform, but origami can also be a solution for a technical problem. This Instructable will explain the programs ORIPA and FreeForm Origami, that you can import in SolidWorks for designing for example an airbag, solar panels and telescopes.

In this example the 'water bomb' shape is used as a basis to enter a small tube and expand at its destination, for example in a blood vessel.

Step 1: What Do You Need?

1. ORIPA program to make your origami pattern (FREE)

- download link:

2. Freeform Origami program to check and convert your design into 3D (FREE)

- download link:

3. SolidWorks or another CAD program if you want to integrate the origami into a 3D design.

Step 2: Start in ORIPA

Download the ORIPA program and open it. Make sure that the 'Show Grid' box is checked. Set the div. number to any number you want to create a grid. In our case we set it to 16.

Step 3: Create Mountain Folds

To show where you need a fold, you need to draw lines. The mountain fold is a fold that is facing upwards and a valley fold is a fold downwards. First we are going to draw the mountain folds, which are red in ORIPA.

Check 'Input Line' and select 'Mountain'. Draw all the lines you need. In this case 7 vertical folds were drawn and 3 horizontal folds.

Step 4: Create Valley Folds

To create a valley fold, you need to check the box 'Valley'. The valley folds are blue in ORIPA.

Draw the valley folding lines according to the pictures or in another pattern you want. When your patterns is corresponding with the last picture (or with the picture in your head), you own origami pattern is done!

Step 5: Save Your Pattern

Save your pattern as a .OBJ, this is now saved as a 2D object.

Step 6: Import Your Model in FreeForm

Download the FreeForm Origami program and open it. Import your pattern that you saved in ORIPA.

Step 7: Check Your Model

To check the shape of your model, you need to click and hold your right mouse button to turn the model.

To see your model in a folded state, click 'Fold/Unfold' > 'FlatFold'

Step 8: Check Your Model

Hold 'B' on your keyboard to gradually unfold the model and hold the 'Spacebar' to gradually fold your model again.

If the model folds like you hoped for, your check is done!

Step 9: Save Pattern to 3D

Set your origami to the shape you want to have in 3D. Keep in mind that you cannot change the folds when you import it in SolidWorks.

Save your shape as an .OBJ file, this is now saved as a 3D object.

Step 10: Import Your Model in SolidWorks

Open Solid Works and open a new part. Drag and drop your new file into this new part. Now you have the opportunity to use your origami form into your new designs.

Note: You can always save multiple stages of the folding of your origami to use this into the configurations in your SolidWorks design.

Step 11: Try Your Design!

If you want to test your design, the easiest way is to use the 2D OBJ file you created in ORIPA. Print this model and start folding. In the pictures you can see the result. Please share your result in the comments and good luck with your design!

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    5 years ago


    Thanks a lot for this nice tutorial!
    I wanted to share some tips, since it took me some time to figure this out.
    - you need the latest version of Java SE Development Kit to open the .jar file and be able to run the ORIPA programm
    - I also needed to install a obj importer plugin to be able to open the obj.file in SolidWorks


    Reply 8 months ago

    I open the .jar file successfully but after I export it to .obj file and import it in freeform origami, I cannot fold it. It seems all the mountainlines and valleylines disappear. Not sure if anything goes wrong


    Question 4 years ago on Step 4

    How to import a obj file in solidworks


    5 years ago

    Fascinating; I didn't know this technology existed, so thank you for sharing!


    5 years ago

    Very Cool. Thanks for the instructable, program links, and info. This could be used for machine tool way covers/bellows design.


    5 years ago

    This would be really helpful for complicated designs :)