Realization of origami-inspired smart structures using electroactive polymer (EAP)

Saad Ahmed, Erika Arrojado, Zoubeida Ounaies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations


Robert Lang has brought functionality to origami, the art of paper folding, by developing an extensive series of "action origami" figures. As the name suggests, these figures can perform actions and produce an output motion with the help of manual actuation, unlike traditional origami. For instance, different figures can bite, row, and fly. The goal of this research study is to adapt a few of these action origami figures put forth by Robert Lang to create 'active' action origami; these systems, instead of relying on manual actuation for motion, will rely on electro-mechanical actuation. This electro-mechanical actuation will be achieved through the judicious use of an electroactive polymer known as P (VDF-TrFE-CTFE) terpolymer. The terpolymer's in-plane motion in response to an electric field is converted into bending using a unimorph configuration. This bending motion is exploited to actuate three so-called "action origami" structures: the flapping butterfly, the catapult, and the barking dog. Based on knowledge of the kinematics of the origami structures, multilayered terpolymer actuator is placed strategically on the origami figures with an aim to maximize the resulting actuation motion. In order to understand the behavior, capabilities, and limitations of the terpolymer as an active material, both qualitative and quantitative data are collected from the actuation of these three different action origami structures as a function of number of terpolymer layers, applied electric field and frequency of the applied field. The goal is to find the suitable shapes and crease patterns of the structures as well as the configurations with the terpolymer film to maximize the actuation. These three structures are tested and results show that PVDF-terpolymer is an effective actuator with ability to deform a substrate to a desired shape in the presence of an electric field: the butterfly was able to flap, the mouth of the dog was able to "bark," and the catapult was able to launch a small ball of paper. Through experimentation, it was determined what parameters affect actuation and furthermore what values of those parameters will maximize the actuation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMultifunctional Materials; Mechanics and Behavior of Active Materials; Integrated System Design and Implementation; Structural Health Monitoring
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
ISBN (Electronic)9780791850480
StatePublished - 2016
EventASME 2016 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, SMASIS 2016 - Stowe, United States
Duration: Sep 28 2016Sep 30 2016

Publication series

NameASME 2016 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, SMASIS 2016


OtherASME 2016 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, SMASIS 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials


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