This week I attended the Makers’ Guild meetup entitled “‘NOT 3DPrinting’ – less hyped but exciting maker technologies”. We had two speakers, Jamie Elliot of JAILmake who told about his designing and making projects and Gregory Epps of Robofold who explained about how to use robots to fold sheet metals into interesting sculptural and architectural designs, specifically using curved folds to produce pairs of concave and convex curves.

Now if you’ve never tried this, go off and get yourself a piece of card (non corrugated).

Draw a curve on the card
Score the line with a knife, scribe or pointer
Fold the card along the line
What you should see is that one side of the fold is a concave surface and the other convex

If you don’t have some spare card then here’s a website with some interesting reference material.

I have experimented with curved folding when I was much younger but not for many years. Greg’s comment about folding multiple curves simultanously made me realise that this technique could be used for a stainless steel mini sculpture I’ve been thinking about, here’s a sketch of the idea, it’s not clear from the sketch but the top edge would be rounded so it looks a but like a jet engine.

When I got home from the meetup I found myself some paper and formed a cone, I then drew a line to square off the bottom and another for the top edge. I then unfolded it and cut the bottom edge. Folding along the top line I saw as expected that the folding process caused the sheet to both fold over and to curve back into the cone. I drew a line where I wanted the outer form to finish and unfolded and cut that up. This is what I ended up with.

Which when unfolded I had the following

It’s not a perfect pattern but I’ve got the basic idea and I can make a better pattern using a compass to draw the lines. I also an idea for a jig to help the bending but more on that in another post.

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