Morphing shell structures are a type of deployable structure created by assembling layered rigid-foldable sheet materials. They are similar to folded shell structures, in that they are a sandwich assembly in which all layers are folded. However with morphing shells structure, sub-patterns are introduced into face sheets such that the core and face patterns have compatible kinematic mechanisms. The publication “Gattas, J.M., You, Z. Assembly of Morphing Plate and Shell Sandwich Structures” is currently in preparation and will contain more information about morphing shell mechanisms.

V2 Basic Mechanism

Several types of morphing plate structures have been proposed that consist of layered assemblies of Miura patterns (see V1 Mechanism below). These use a one-to-one mapping of core units to face units, which creates an unsupported mid-span face hinge which causes mechanical behaviours that are unsuitable for structural applications.

The V2 Mechanism is created by using a single face unit per two core units. This shifts the free face hinge to a core ridge location when deployed, which greatly simplifies locking mechanism design and load transfer. Below is a video demonstrating V2 steel prototype self-folding and deployment.

Miura-core morphing plate.

V2 Mechanism Variants

The V2 mechanism Miura core pattern can be replaced with Miura-derivative geometries to generate different morphing curvatures. A disc geometric envelope with a radial deployment mechanism can be generated with a Tapered Miura-core:

Radial Tapered Miura-core morphing plate.

A cylindrical geometric envelope can be generated with a Non-Developable Miura core. A continuous core (Type 1) or continuous face (Type 2) can be used:
Cylindrical Mechanism Type1.

Cylindrical Mechanism Type2.

Similarly, a Type 1 or Type 2 conical geometric envelope can be generated with a Conical Miura core:
Conical Mechanism Type1.

Conical Mechanism Type2.

V1 Mechanism

Details of geometric design and construction techniques for V1 morphing plate structures were presented as the IStructE Young Researchers’ Conference 2013. Below are animations of V1 mechanism prototype deployments. See publication “Gattas, J.M. (2013) Morphing origami panels: geometry and construction. In Proceedings of the 15th Young Researchers’ Conference, 14 March 2013, London, IStructE, pp. 40-41.” for more information.

Steel beam under out-of-plane loading:

Steel beam under longitudinal axial loading:


Steel beam under lateral axial loading: