Origami Square Twist

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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...

The kinetic sculpture shown here is made of a much larger square of material than just a regular piece of paper, and it is made of a material that is an entire inch thick. Try folding that! It turns out that once materials start to get thicket than paper, it becomes harder and harder to fold an origami pattern. Scientists and engineers have looked into this problem and have come up with a few methods for "folding" thick materials. Actually, in most of these methods, the materials aren't folded at all; rather, they are joined be some kind of hinge or joint.

In our Kinetic sculpture, the thick panels were cut out individually, stacked as they would be in the paper model, and then we added offsets to extend the fold edges back to where they would be on the paper model. After that, we used fabric to create the hinges. This method is called the offset panel technique. Can you think of any other ways to make origami models with thick materials? Try cutting each panel from this pattern out of a piece of thick cardboard and see what you can come up with.

Step 1: Print

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

Step 2: Cut Out

Cut along the outer edges of the square pattern.

Step 3: Crease the Square Twist Pattern.

Following the Guidelines for Mountain/valley Folds, Crease the Square Twist Pattern.

Dotted lines = Valley folds

Solid lines = Mountain folds

Step 4: Collapse the Pattern

Take two opposite corners and push them toward the middle, letting creases fall in their orientation.

The large square should fold down into a smaller square in the middle.

Step 5: Get Creative!

Draw, paint, or write something (a cartoon character, a logo, a scene, etc.) on the face of the folded pattern.

Step 6: Open the Square Twist Pattern!

Now the fun part - open the square twist pattern (you'll see your drawing be split in half and move to opposite corners) and complete the drawing or phrase on the unfolded square.

Watch the transformation as you open and close your kinetic sculpture. If it is folded correctly, you can push the sides in and out and see the square shrink and expand.

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