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Design and Development of Convertible Folding Systems


Despite its promising potential and wide range of applications, the solution principle technical folding with finite thicknesses is only used in a few technical application areas. There are several reasons for the rare use. Among others, well-known but general development processes and methods for mechanical products, such as process steps and methods of VDI 2221, do not sufficiently support the overcoming of technical and methodological challenges of technical folding. In order to solve the mentioned challenges, a basic development process as well as methods for the development of convertible folding units have already been elaborated within the first funding phase (01/2016 - 12/2018), which should facilitate and support a successful application of the solution principle. However, the work results of the first funding phase were only validated using small-scale concepts. However, the scale of the convertible folding unit has a major influence on the thicknesses of the folding surfaces and their articulated connection, and thus on the concept development and structural design of the overall system. Therefore, the second funding phase (05/2020 - 06/2021) should address shortcomings of the previous development process and methods and tools, and improve and validate the applicability of engineered folding.

Research objective

The aim of the research project is to enable the targeted technical use of technical folding in architecture and civil engineering. For this purpose, a specific development process is to be provided.

Procedure and research results (excerpt)

In order to achieve the overall objective, the development process and the methods and tools from funding phase 1, among others, were applied to the concept development of a large-scale, convertible cover for industrial robots. Within the scope of the application, optimization potentials for the process steps and the methods and tools assigned to them were identified. After implementation of the optimization measures, the detailed process steps and the developed methods and tools from funding phase 2 could be applied to the development of the large-scale cover and iterated from the previously developed concept to a final overall design.

The developed overall design is shown in the header and forms the basis for the fabrication of the large-scale cover. The fabricated and assembled large-scale convertible cover is shown in the following video, among others.


Duration (Funding Phase 1)

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2018

Duration (Funding Phase 2)

01.05.2020 - 30.06.2021

Funded project partner:

Institute of Mechanism Theory, Machine Dynamics and Robotics Chair of Structures and Structural Design

Project funded by:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Project promoted by:

Projektträger Jülich