Digital Fabrication: Parallel Pleat Research
The semester has concluded and our Digital Fabrication research has ended as well. Our four person research trajectory was exploring how to use parallel pleat techniques found in origami to manipulate plastic in a way that can be aggregated into a self standing structure. Before we even chose research topics I had begun to fold parallel pleated octagons after seeing them in an origami book. The form itself was intriguing, but as I quickly learned through research at the very beginning, totally understanding how these things fold was going to be difficult to impossible for our resources and time. The first thing I learned was that the twisting within these shapes is largely due to the material properties. This made it hard to accurately judge what would happen in plastic while testing in paper. Although the plastic seemed to behave more consistently, it was much more expensive, and required larger folds as it was much thicker than the paper.
I think the biggest problem with the method in which we conducted parallel pleat research was the decision to go with the first form I created. I was interested in the octagons as a way to combine edges and the natural twist that it took, however I think more time should have been spent deciding what shape to try and aggregate. Using a square instead of an octagon would have been a much better idea in order to learn about the parallel pleating and simple changes. However this was not the mindset of the class so our group went with the octagon that folds into an area bound by a cube. The most difficult part of the project was the lack of understanding the way in which changes to an octagon effect its folded form. There were many points throughout the semester in which our group had demonstrated a false understanding of the octagon. This was by far the biggest problem as it had stopped the group from efficiently and productively conducting empirical studies that would have shed more light on the problem at hand. It wasnt until a few weeks before the end that the theories of how to unfold a cube into an octagon were put to the test and failed. In the end, we were able to create four different pieces that aggregate together to make an arch. One complete arch consists of 20 pieces, however there are only four unique pieces. The most successful part of the aggregation was the tabbing system in which Jesse headed in a way to eliminate rivets or other hardware.
Below is the final presentation. I will upload pictures of the final form later.