Researchers at North Carolina State University, led by Michael Dickey, have developed an Origami-like technique that allows them to fold plastic sheets, to pre-specified patterns, by heating the sheets with infrared light.
According to a report on Gawker.com, the discovery could completely revolutionize the origami industry.
The research is centered on a few basic principles of light, which implies that dark colors like black absorbs more energy than paler colors. The team, therefore, printed black ink along the lines of plastic sheets to be folded and then placed it all under infrared light.
They found the sheets began to shrink along the inked lines and then fold up.
According to Newscientist.com, the researchers also explained how “increasing the width of the line increases the angle of the fold, making it possible to produce a range of shapes.”
These shapes could range from simple squares and rectangles to more complex ones like pyramids, all of which could be made efficiently and without using one's hands.
As remarkable as it sounds, this is not the first venture of its kind. Last year, using similar principles, researchers at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a material that folds or retains a previously held shape when heated. They used shape memory alloy foil and flexible silicon rubber” to create the effect.
This new technique, however, could prove to be a revolutionary step forward for packaging and other related industries, if properly integrated with other developed techinques.
Check out the video that shows how light creates instant origami.