PaperMech: FoldMecha

PaperMech (www.papermech.net) is where we share our research on design tools and techniques for mechanical movements combining with papercrafting. In the team, I have developed computational hardware/software design tools and methods to explore paper mechatronics, a new interdisciplinary design medium that integrates traditional papercrafting with mechanical, electrical, computational components. We believe it can open up new creative possibilities as an engaging hands-on learning medium.

Our design software, FoldMecha supports interactive exploratory engineering design of moveable paper crafts. It combines the strengths of designing with a physical construction kit with the flexibility of design software and rapid manufacturing. In FoldMecha, a designer assembles component mechanisms and changes parameters of linkages, gear sizes, and motor types. As a user constructs a design, FoldMecha shows its behavior in simulation. Users design new modules by linking mechanisms or assembling more complicated moveable objects by revising movement modules. FoldMecha then generates the folding net to cut for physical prototyping.

You can explore FoldMecha [here

FoldMecha supports users to select where they want to start from––either motions or mechanisms. In my workshops, I noticed that the unfamiliarity of domain specific languages, such as rack and pinion gears or crank mechanism, concerns novice designers from the beginning. So it inspired me to develop the FoldMecha system to start with familiar languages and ideas such as up-down, open-close, or flapping. Users can choose the mechanism and specify details of the local parameters while exploring the simulation of the motions.

We conducted many workshops to evaluate the accessibility and adaptability of the FoldMecha and prototyping methods. These workshops collectively enabled us to develop and revise our framework.