Folding: Structural Materiality in Textiles and Electromagnetics

September 17, 2020 - September 18, 2020
All Day

Berlin Open Lab

What do a space solar panel, a drug delivery tool for advanced ovarian cancer, and a dress worn by Lady Gaga have in common?
They all use the Japanese art of origami to fold a sheet of material into a geometric form. More specifically, these three items use the Miura-ori fold pattern, made of parallelograms arranged as repeating shapes that look like the letter V. When folded, the pattern is completely flat and compact while easily deployable, making it very suitable for places which are difficult to reach and where small size and light weight is beneficial.
While folded geometric patterns are extremely versatile and popular in many research and creative areas, it is rare that scientists, engineers and artists are in the same room to share their knowledge and expertise in folding and understanding these structures. This symposium aims to do just that – bringing together designers, electromagnetic engineers, physicists, artists and philosophers – exploring folding patterns together and with the expertise of their respective disciplines to develop concepts for new materials for space, health and creative applications.
Of specific interest for this event is the study of electrically conductive textiles. Also known as “electronic textiles”, these are used to create soft electronic circuits made entirely from textile-like materials, such as sewing threads and knitting yarn. They are processed in similar ways to conventional textile materials using knitting, embroidery and sewing machines (one can even do this by hand), but have extended functionality that we usually only know from electronic devices we carry everyday, like mobile phones or smart watches. Electronic textiles for example pick up signals from our environment as soft sensors, or they transmit data in wireless communication as wearable soft antennas.
While the study of electronic textiles has grown from being a niche topic to a substantial research field in the past 20 years, three-dimensional structures have not yet been looked at much – surprisingly, as many electronic circuits and electromagnetic devices make use of multi-layers and intricate three-dimensional construction. Given that folding is already an established process in many disciplines using their own traditional and newly developed techniques, the symposium is asking: What could happen if we now combine the extraordinary mechanical capabilities of folded structures with electrical ones?
At the same time, a critical perspective on the role of materials in our future lives is urgently needed. The symposium will investigate the challenges of dwindling resources, recyclability, social fairness and inclusiveness by sketching out plausible scenarios for a livable and sustainable society for all.


– Prof. Dr. Berit Greinke
Junior professor in Wearable Computing
College of Architecture, Media and Design / Institute of Experimental Fashion and Textile Design
Universität der Künste Berlin

– Dr Robert Seager
SMIEEE, MIET, SFHEA (Senior Lecturer in Wearable Technology), Wireless Communications Research Group
Communications Division
Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
Loughborough University

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