'New origami-like structures can support 14,000 times their weight'

Washington, Jan 22 (PTI) Researchers have developed new soft-material structures which can hold nearly 14,000 times their weight using the Japanese art form of kirigami -- a version of origami that allows materials to be cut and reconnected using tape or glue.

The study, published in the journal Physical Review X, said the particular geometry of the structures produced flaps which could interlock, and may lead to inexpensive, lightweight, and deployable structures like shelter tents.

'The usual kirigami route is to cut that off and tape it,' said study co-author Randall Kamien from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

'Here was this structure that didn't require tape, it had cuts, and it was really strong. Suddenly, we have this system that we hadn't anticipated at all,' Kamien added.

Once they developed the structure, the researchers made several versions of different 'soft' materials, including paper, copper, and plastic.

They also made versions where the cut flaps were taped, cut, or damaged.

Testing the geometric structure using industry-grade tension and compression analysis equipment, the scientists found that the designs could support 14,000 times its own weight.

According to the study, the tilted, triangular design was the strongest when the flaps were undamaged and untapped.

The researchers said these structures were also stronger than the same design with vertical walls.

When the walls of the triangles are angled, they said, any force applied to the top is translated into horizontal compression within the design centre.

'With the vertical ones, there's no way to turn a downward force into a sideways force without bending the paper,' explained Kamien.

The study also revealed that paper-to-paper overlap from leaving the cut flaps in place allowed the triangles to press up against their neighbours, which helped distribute the vertical weight load.

'We figured out how to use materials that can bend and stretch, and we can actually strengthen these materials,' said study co-author Xinyu Wang from Southeast University in China.

'Someday, you'll go to IKEA, you fold the box into the furniture, and the only thing inside is the cushion. You don't need any of those connectors or little screws,' Kamien said. PTI VIS VIS VIS