PCB Origami: a Material-based Design Approach to Computer-aided Foldable Electronic Devices

Yoav Sterman, E. Demaine, Neri Oxman


Origami is traditionally implemented in paper, which is a passive material. This research explores the use of material with embedded electronics such as printed circuit boards (PCB) as the medium for origami folding to create an interactive folding experience and to generate foldable objects with added functionalities. PCBs are produced as 2D shapes. By folding PCB arrays, it is possible to create 3D objects that contain electronic functions. Conductivity, output devices (such as light emitting diodes) and microcontroller computation can create an interactive folding experience, for user guidance and verification of the folding. We call this approach and methodology PCB origami. The work presented in this paper describes two unique interaction and fabrication techniques for creating and folding electronic materials. We demonstrate prototypes and present verification/evaluation strategies for guiding the user through the folding process.

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