Industrial Origami 3D Printing Takes Shape
STILFOLD sells its first “industrial origami” metal-folding machine to Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
November 28, 2023
Most people associate origami with the ancient Japanese art of folding paper. But Stockholm-based startup STILFOLD has applied the concept to pioneering technology that uses robotics to fold flat sheet metal over curves to create complex structures using minimal component parts.
The company’s so-called “industrial origami” metal-folding machine helps designers, architects, manufacturers, and engineers realize the full potential of flat sheet metal with a fabrication method that minimizes resource consumption and waste. The system now has its first buyer committed to using the technology outside of the STILFOLD workshop—Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
At Georgia Tech, the STILFOLD tooling will be used for education and innovation purposes, allowing students to leverage the technology to design and build work on-site as part of Georgia Tech’s “Origami Engineering” program. STILFOLD is working in partnership with Georgia Tech to advance the program and teach students how innovative manufacturing approaches can streamline production processes, reduce costs, and minimize engineers’ environmental impact.
“We are really excited to be working with STILFOLD to provide our students with hands-on experience with advanced technology, cutting-edge structural engineering, and sustainable manufacturing,” says Dr. Lauren Steward, associate professor and the director of the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Structural Engineering and Materials Laboratory (SEML). “As we delve deeper into STILFOLD as a manufacturing technology, it becomes increasingly promising. The technology delivers on all fronts from cost-effectiveness to environmental adaptation, which is a necessity in all future manufacturing.”
STILFOLD has created groundbreaking technology which involves the use of a specialist robotic cell and computational design software to fold flat sheet metal over curves to create complex, lightweight, and sustainable new structures, using minimal component parts. STILWARE software defines the optimal geometries for folding along complex and curved lines, STILTOOL transforms CAD data into CAM instructions for automated robotic folding and forming, and the STILWORKS production cell ensures any fully equipped metal workshop can partake in the origami-style manufacturing.
The technology is currently being used to build a lightweight electric motorcycle called the STILRIDE 1. STILFOLD is also exploring how the tech could be used to build trains, cars, and even to construct things in outer space. As part of its commercialization journey, STILFOLD was granted a Swedish patent that covers its core robotic hardware and proprietary software, used to create the folding instructions for 3D shapes.
STILFOLD has been gearing up to make its patented manufacturing software and hardware available to designers, architects, manufacturers and engineers since it announced its plans to commercialize the technology in 2022. In May 2023, STILFOLD was granted a Swedish patent that covers the core robotic hardware as well as the company’s proprietary software which enables designers to create folding instructions for 3D shapes.
Watch this video to learn more about the STILRIDE 1 and STILFOLD design process.