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Posts Tagged ‘nasa’

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Photo: Ryan Jenq for the New York Times
Robby Kraft created two origami, left,
“using his own custom code for developing new crease patterns.” He also folded “Hyperbolic Cube,” right, which was designed by Thomas Hull of Western New England University.

Origami is an ancient paper-folding technique that is turning out to have some very modern applications.

Kathleen Massara at the New York Times interviewed a few folks who know a lot about it.

” ‘I would say the biggest rule is no cutting,’ said Wendy Zeichner, the president and chief executive of OrigamiUSA. It’s ‘one piece of paper and no glue.’

“OrigamiUSA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the art form. The group traces its roots to the 1950s, when Lillian Oppenheimer, one of its eventual founders, began to communicate with paper folders around the world, including Akira Yoshizawa in Japan, who is often credited as the father of modern origami — they would send each other diagrams explaining how to fold different shapes from a single square sheet of paper. …

” ‘Origami is really almost as old as paper,’ Ms. Zeichner explained — it means ‘to fold paper’ in Japanese — and paper in sheet form is thought to have been invented in China around 105 A.D. To start making shapes like cranes and frogs, it boils down to two basic techniques: mountain folds and valley folds, which are different ways to make the edges meet. After that, you can get creative….

A few years ago, NASA engineers were able to create foldable telescopes and a flower-shaped shade to block out light from distant stars by using paper-folding techniques.

” ‘If you want to send something in a rocket, it has to be packed small,’ Ms. Zeichner said. ‘The same algorithms you would use in origami would be used in this.’ The same goes for folding an airbag into a car, or creating pop-up homeless shelters.

“Precision is key, whether someone is folding a humble crane or a complex modular structure with interlocking parts. So is enthusiasm. ‘The majority of people are either enthusiasts on the simple end or on the complex end,’ said Jason Ku, a lecturer at M.I.T. and a faculty adviser to the origami club there. …

“The goal is to arrive at the most efficient and elegant means of achieving a particular effect. ‘I want the result to be complex, but I want to simplify the process it takes to get there,’ Dr. Ku said. …

“As in math, it’s important to show your work. … ‘Showing your technique is one of the biggest aspects of origami,’ said Taro Yaguchi, the founder of Taro’s Origami Studio in Brooklyn.

“Before the 1950s, certain origami objects were more difficult to create, partly because diagrams weren’t standardized. Some guide books simply presented the results, without the necessary steps to get there. Yoshizawa, in Japan, and Samuel Randlett, in the United States, helped develop a set of international diagram conventions that is now referred to as the Yoshizawa-Randlett system.

“ ‘Before it got codified, it could be very confusing,’ said Jeannine Mosely, a software engineer in Cambridge, Mass. Ms. Mosely is known for large-scale projects such as an origami Menger sponge, a series of cubes adding up to a giant cube, made out of business cards. At the time, the fact that she didn’t use square paper caused ripples throughout the origami community. ‘There were people who didn’t want anything to do with my work because I started with rectangles,’ she said. …

“Diagrams and algorithms won’t be much help if you’re not using the right materials. ‘It’s a mistake a lot of beginner’s make: they go online and find the most beautiful kind of paper,’ said Jewel Kawataki, a New York-based jewelry maker who creates different designs with chiyogami, a sleek fabric-like paper. “You can see their frustration in YouTube tutorials. They’ve used the wrong paper.’ …

“Toshiko Kobayashi, an art therapist in Manhattan who grew up folding as a child in Tokyo after World War II, believes in the art’s ability to heal. ‘Just after the war, there was nothing. Paper was one of the readily available toys for me,’ she said. In New York, she has been busy introducing the art to different communities through the Origami Therapy Association in Manhattan, which she founded in 2002. …

“For many, the practice is embraced for its calming aspects. ‘It’s lessened my anxiety a lot,’ Ms. Kawataki said.

“Regardless of techniques, the community, whether in person or online, keeps people excited about the art form. ‘Origamists from around the world will meet and fold together,’ Ms. Mosely said. ‘They might not be able to talk to each other, but they can fold.’ ”

For some breathtaking photos, check out the New York Times article, here.  And be sure to watch the origami documentary Between the Folds by Vanessa Gould.

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My husband pointed out this cool story about how NASA is using 3-D printing. I have had a couple posts about using 3-D to create food, but this is the first use of the technology that really makes sense to me. It’s sending design instructions to someone you have no physical access to so they can create a needed tool.

Janet Fang writes at IFLScience, “For the first time ever, hardware designed on the ground has been emailed to space to meet the needs of an astronaut. From a computer in California, Mike Chen of Made In Space and colleagues just 3D-printed a ratcheting socket wrench on the International Space Station. ‘We had overheard ISS Commander Barry Wilmore (who goes by “Butch”) mention over the radio that he needed one,’ Chen wrote in Medium [in December]. So they designed one and sent it up.

“ ‘The socket wrench we just manufactured is the first object we designed on the ground and sent digitally to space, on the fly,’ he adds. It’s a lot faster to send data wirelessly on demand than to wait for a physical object to arrive via rockets, which can take months or even years.

“The team started by designing the tool on a computer, then converting it into a 3D-printer-ready format. That’s then sent to NASA, which transmits the wrench to the space station. Once the code is received by the 3D printer, the wrench is manufactured: Plastic filament is heated and extruded layer by layer. The ISS tweeted this photo earlier this week, and you can see more pictures of the very cool wrench-printing process here.” More here.

Photo: NASA
Commander Barry Wilmore, traveling in space, shows off a 3D printed ratchet

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