MIT Algorithm Generates Paper-Folding Patterns to Tell You How to Produce Any 3-D Shape Imaginable

Erik Demaine, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science has spent almost two decades investigating the art of origami combined with algorithms that can determine how to fold paper into 3-D shape. In fact, in 1999, Demaine, then an 18-year-old Ph.D. student, published a paper that described such an algorithm. Back then, this was a milestone in the field of computational origami, however, the algorithm didn’t produce very practical folding patterns.
Now, Demaine and a colleague Tomohiro Tachi created an improved folding algorithm that not only manages to fold any 3-D shape imaginable out of a piece of paper, but it does so elegantly, with the minimal amount of seams.
The algorithm works like this: a user specifies an arbitrary 3D polyhedron as the shape he or she wants to fold and then the algorithm starts mapping out the shape of the desired object onto a flat surface. Then, it tells the user a crease pattern for how to fold it. Its designs are quite efficient in practice as well as “watertight”, meaning there are no gaps in the layers that make up the structure.
The new folding algorithm will be presented at the Symposium on Computational Geometry.

MIT News (
Digital Trends (


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