[Univ of Cambridge] [Dept of Engineering]

Wrapping Fold Pattern

The Wrapping Fold Pattern is a way of folding a membrane by wrapping it around a central hub. It has been `invented' a number of times since the 1960's; most recently it was suggested by Cambridge Consultants as a way of packaging a solar sail.

The shape of the fold pattern has been worked on by Simon Guest and Sergio Pellegrino. We believe we have a particularly simple and effective way of calculating the correct fold pattern. An example of the fold pattern is shown below, almost fully deployed, and almost fully folded.


Make your own wrapping fold pattern

I have produced two pdf files that contains fold patterns for you to make.

The first, difficult version, is suitable for A4 (or US Letter) paper - it comes with instructions on how it should be folded. The fold pattern has 24 sides, and folds the paper from a diameter of about 20 cm to a cylinder of diameter 4 cm by height 2.5 cm. Try it! The fold pattern can be downloaded here.

The second, simpler version, has been used at a series of Science Museum workshops, and at the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition It is suitable for A4 (or US Letter) paper, or it can be expanded onto larger (e.g. A3) paper. It has eight folds. The fold pattern can be downloaded here.

Relevant Publications

Guest, S.D., and Pellegrino, S. (1992). "Inextensional Wrapping of Flat Membranes." First International Conference on Structural Morphology, Montpellier, R. Motro and T. Wester, eds., 7-11 September, 203-215. (pdf copy)

Last updated on the 23rd of June, 2010

S.D. Guest - sdg@eng.cam.ac.uk