Lasers in Manufacturing and Materials Processing

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 237–247 | Cite as

Laser Folding in a Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing Process

  • Nathan LazarusEmail author
  • Gabriel L. Smith


Origami-inspired design allows three dimensional systems to be made from two dimensional patterns typically far easier to create. We demonstrate a self-folding roll-to-roll process based on laser machining and folding. Using a low cost laser cutter, metal is cut, optically folded into 3D shapes and removed from an unpatterned roll of thin metal sheeting, all without manual handling. Folding is done through laser forming, localized laser heating to cause expansion and contraction for bending. Two different laser forming mechanisms, based on different temperature distributions within the workpiece, are characterized and demonstrated to allow both up and down bending using only the laser itself. These mechanisms are then used to prototype a series of parts using a roll-to-roll setup, with individual parts taken from a blank sheet of metal to a finished folded part in minutes. Our roll-to-roll laser origami approach is a major advance in production technology, allowing the use of a widely available 2D machine tool to create repeated custom 3D parts without human intervention.


Laser forming Laser material processing Self-folding Origami 


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Army Research LaboratoryAdelphiUSA

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