05/27/2014 06:23 EDT | Updated 05/27/2014 06:59 EDT

Self-Folding Paper Creates Origami Right Before Your Eyes (VIDEO)

You'll never have to feel shame over your sad-looking paper crane again.

A Vancouver master's student has created a form of paper that — wait for it — folds itself.

Ata Sina, who is studying mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia, developed the material, which self-folds when heated up.

"The method involves using a computer program to make small cuts and creases in a sheet of paper," Sina told UBC News. "We then attach special thermoplastic polymers onto the pre-cut and pre-creased paper and stick it in an oven at about 110 degrees Celsius for 10 to 20 seconds. As the polymers heat up, they shrink and lift the paper into various angles turning it into a 3-D shape."


Sina said the product could be used for noise and heat insulation, folding beds, step stools, toys, and, first and foremost, packaging.

"When paper is folded into three-dimensional structures, the product is light, strong, and cheap," he said. "This makes it easy to transport. It also has less impact on the environment. Compared to plastic, we use less energy to make self-folding paper."

He got the idea for this technology by watching an origami demonstration, according to Global News. Because it combines art and science, the Georgia Straight reports that Sina calls it "origami engineering."

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