Words by Smiley Team
As anyone who enjoys origami will know, it’s astounding what you can create with just one sheet of paper. No glue, scissors or additional materials are needed to construct almost any animal or structure you can imagine.
Likewise, industrial origami also saves on materials. But instead of folded paper, the innovative manufacturing technique involves giant robots folding huge sheets of metal.
Engineers have discovered that the process can cut back on the amount of material needed, helping to create more sustainable products. Meanwhile, producing products as a flatpack cuts back on transport emissions, helping to reduce the climate impact of manufacturing industries.
In use since the 1950s, industrial origami recently took on a new form in Sweden, where a startup called Stilride designed a cutting edge e-scooter made from folded sheets of steel.
The startup collaborated with researchers and engineers to develop what they hoped would become “the most attractive and sustainable electric scooter in the world”.
Its co-founders, Tue Beijer and Jonas Nyvang come from backgrounds in fashion and design. By adapting the traditional Japanese art form of origami to their manufacturing process, they say they have managed to cut components by 70% and use just one-fifth of the materials they would otherwise require while reducing labour costs by a quarter.
“We strongly believe in the electrification of personal mobility and see the need for a new breed of mid-range commuting vehicle made in harmony with nature”, says Tue.
But the potential of industrial origami is not limited just to vehicles. Years since the co-founders first spotted its potential, the research and development company Robotdalen has also adopted the process. They hope to make the sustainable alternative more viable so that it becomes a more standard manufacturing technique for a wide range of other products.
Although solutions such as this help to reduce the environmental toll of manufacturing, the sector has much further to go. Productive industries continue to create around 20% of global carbon emissions, making up a large part of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and worsening climate change.
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