The Miura-Ori Map

not a sunrise (ミウラ折り 3)
Image: not a sunrise (ミウラ折り 3) by Dan Rosen
The problem with maps is that the moment you unfold them, it becomes a complete nightmare to fold them back into their original compact form. Ergonomically this is a big problem, but not if you use the Miura-Ori folding technique!
Inspired by Origami, Koryo Miura and Masamori Sakamaki from Tokyo University’s Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, created the Muira-Ori folding technique to allow people to unfold a map in one action and refold it with minimal hassle. It is touted to “transform the ergonomics of map folding”.

Miura and Sakamaki normally work on the problems of packing large flat items, like satellite antennae and solar collectors, into the smallest, most compact shapes with a view to deploying them as rapidly and as simply as possible. They saw three problems with maps folded at right angles in the conventional manner. First, an orthogonally-folded map requires an unduly complicated series of movements to fold and unfold it. Secondly, once unfolded there is a strong possibility that the folds may be “unstable” and turn inside out. Finally, right-angled folds place a lot of stress on the paper inducing, almost without exception, tears which begin where two folds intersect.
The key to an alternative system of may folding lies in the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding, origami. One of the most common origami effects is to use a variant on concertina folding to produce a slightly ridged surface composed of a series of congruent parallelograms, by a variation on concertina folding.
Miura and Sakamaki looked at this kind of surface in terms of its geometry and elasticity and came to the conclusion that the most important point of difference from an orthogonally folded sheet is that the folds are interdependent. Thus a movement along one fold lire produces movement along the other. In other words, the user can open the map with just one pull at a corner. The new method also solves in part the other problems which Miura and Sakamaki cited. Interdependence of folds means that it is very difficult to reverse them and the amount of stress place or, the map sheet is also reduced because only one thickness of paper comes beneath the second fold, avoiding the need to fold several sheets.

How is this for initial research for my next version of the Expandable Sketchbook? Looks like I’m off to a great start.
Check out the full article here, and if you are interested in a step by step process of creating a Miura-Ori origami fold check out the instructions below from ThinkQuest! Please click on the images from left to right and then top to bottom. The text is in Japanese, but the visual and numbered instructions are pretty clear.


Hat tip to Sebastian for pointing this out.

1 Comment
  • Sebastian

    September 22, 2010 at 1:20 am Reply

    Great you picked it up!
    I have been playing with this folding method. To make it work with your sketchbook, you can make the first fold wider than the subsequent folds so that there is a rim left on one side which can be used for binding.

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