Research ArticleENGINEERING

Origami-based impact mitigation via rarefaction solitary wave creation

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Science Advances  24 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaau2835
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau2835


The principles underlying the art of origami paper folding can be applied to design sophisticated metamaterials with unique mechanical properties. By exploiting the flat crease patterns that determine the dynamic folding and unfolding motion of origami, we are able to design an origami-based metamaterial that can form rarefaction solitary waves. Our analytical, numerical, and experimental results demonstrate that this rarefaction solitary wave overtakes initial compressive strain waves, thereby causing the latter part of the origami structure to feel tension first instead of compression under impact. This counterintuitive dynamic mechanism can be used to create a highly efficient—yet reusable—impact mitigating system without relying on material damping, plasticity, or fracture.

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