Tensegrity structures consist of bar elements that carry compression forces only, and cables that carry tensile forces only. These truss-like structures can be lightweight, deployable, and geometrically adaptable, which has allowed for novel applications in architecture and engineering. Additionally, the reconfigurable geometry and internal pre-stress of tensegrity structures can allow for active control of the dynamic and mechanical characteristics of these systems.
In this project, we modify the basic premise of tensegrity structures by creating a hybrid system, where flat origami plates carry compression forces, and knitted textile surfaces carry tensile forces. These structures would also transmit limited shear loads trough the continuous surface of plates and knitted fabric. Our research will first explore the basic methods of knitting the surface and connecting plates into prescribed origami patters. We will study the fundamental mechanics of these structures focusing on how the pre-stress and geometry govern the deformation characteristics and global stiffness of the knitted-origami surfaces. Our work will further show how tailoring the constraints, internal stress and friction can be used for dynamic control of the structure. We envision that these knitted origami tensegrities will enable a new genre of deployed and adapted structures that consist of continuous surfaces that can be deformed and reconfigured for various applications at multiple scales.