Experiments with Muscle Wire and Paper (Pt. 1)

I have begun experimenting with different ways of enacting shape-change in paper folds using the Flexinol muscle wire. We began by testing out folding and unfolding a fan shape – however, found that the wire was not strong enough to contract this shape. The issue may be the weight of the paper, the number of folds or a combination of both. The lack of an anchor against which the wire could pull may have also caused problems.

1. The muscle wire was threaded through the paper fan using a sewing needle.
2. The wire was bent at both ends to fix it in place.
3. Crocodile connectors were used to hook up the muscle wire to the circuit.


After the first test failed, a second was devised to rectify some of the identified problems. We found a lightweight paper (the instructions from a box of painkillers), and created a fan shape with less folds. We taped it to the table to provide anchorage. We also doubled the wire over to increase its strength. This time, we achieved a small amount of movement.

The next steps are to explore increasing the folds of wire used, working with lightweight papers and identifying the best folds for achieving more dramatic shape-change.

2 years ago

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