Our lab was fortunate enough to host Dr. Zhong You, Professor in the Department of Engineering Science of Oxford University and a Tutorial Fellow at Magdalen College. Dr. You worked with our students and gave a colloquium presentation on some of the recent projects he has been working on.
During his presentation, Dr You discussed his work on thick origami and specifically how to accommodate for thickness in rigid-foldable arrays. His first approach involved varying the thickness of the panels, which allowed the array to fold up by enabling the axes of the folds to intersect, similar to a zero-thickness spherical mechanism.
He also demonstrated another approach inspired by kirigami, which involved removing one or more hinges to allow for folding of arrays with constant thickness, a more desirable feature for aerospace applications such as RF.
This led to Dr You's work with Hamiltonian circuits, an approach where separate polygons are connected so that each polygon is attached to only two of its neighbors. If the hinges are arranged correctly, the entire array can fold up neatly, though there are many degrees of freedom. To deploy this type of array, they needed to add springs to every hinge, but this resulted in an explosive deployment that caused the array to over-rotate and impact itself.
To mitigate this, Dr You adjusted the stiffness of the springs on each joint to better control the unfolding order of the panels. He also showed how overlapping tessellations of Hamiltonian circuits could create arrays with one degree of freedom, eliminating the need for springs on every hinge and reducing the danger of the array hitting itself during deployment.
Finally, Dr You showcased some other projects he's working on with kirigami, teasing that there's more to come.