Mechanical System

Our interactive sculpture spans 8 feet by 3 feet by 1 foot, and is designed to stand completely on its own. The base is made from plywood, with a removable back panel, allowing the system to be easily adjusted and maintained. There are eighteen origami nodes on the sculpture, inspired by the elegance of birds in flight. They were purposefully designed to have an inner structure that opens and closes the outer frame, similar to how an umbrella works, thus integrating a crucial part of the mechanical design with the aesthetics of the sculpture. We laser cut the origami structures from Tyvek, a resistant material made from flashspun polyethylene fibers.

We move our flowers by using a rack and pinion for each group of three nodes. The servo moves back and forth on the rack, which rests on a 3d printed slider with ball bearings to reduce friction. A bolt attached to the inner structure of the origami screws into the rack, making manufacturing and repetition much easier. In order to reduce the number of actuators in our system, we combine three individual origami structures into one group by linking them. These connections were unable to rotate which meant that all origami nodes would move at the same time.

Here is a working video of our origami nodes opening and closing.