How You'd Fold A Map If You Were Awesome

In 1995, Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura designed a folding mechanism intended to deploying solar panels in space. The method, called the Miura fold or miura-ori, allows you to open and close a folded piece of paper — like a map — with one swift motion. It's pretty like origami and useful like a fox.

Make sense? Probably not. The GIF to the right is probably the best demonstration of the Miura fold in action (click to enlarge). Entrepreneur Eric Meltzer describes it thusly:

A Miura sheet has only one degree of freedom, and can be thought of as having only two states: fully open, or fully closed. Since reversing one fold in the sheet (that is, making a "mountain" into a "valley") requires reversing all of the adjacent folds as well, the Miura sheet feels as though it has a memory, and is very resistant to deformation.

While designed for solar panels, the fold could clearly come in handy in regular everyday usage — like for folding and unfolding maps. The catch is that if your paper isn't already folded Miura-style, it's fairly complicated to fold. Meltzer offers this folding schematic from Koryo Miura's original design. Alternately, this YouTube video offers another method (that appears to be a little different).

Whether you've used the Miura fold before or you give it a try today, let's hear how it works for you in the comments.

The Miura-ori and how to fold it [Wheatpond]


    I hand made one of these to serve as a tourist map for my senior graphic design exhibition a few years back.. Now in the design industry, I've discovered that xpandomedia holds patent on this so no other print house worldwide can "legally" recreate for commercial use.

      wait....they hold a patent on how to fold a map???

        From what I've been told by various print firms when trying to create one of these for a client, xpandomedia owns the right to the form factor and to create the folding process in any large quantity (i.e. stadium map for a sport event) cannot legally be done outside of xpandomedia vendors.

          Damn, and I thought *software* patents were fucking retarded.

            That is slightly messed up... it's getting ridiculous what things people are granted Patents for these days.... that and awful town planning (allowing people to knock down a house and replace with 6 human dog boxes) are the two things that will be the pebbles, that hit the stones, that hit the rocks, that in time cause the avalanche that will end our modern society...

            I don't blame he Patentee's, or the property developers... well maybe a little... I blame the clowns that allow these things to get approved.

            Anyway... I wish MY maps and docs folded like this.... is very cool.

              At first it does seem silly, but then stop and think... did any of us think of this before seeing it?

              No? Patentable.

    Are you sure the gif isn't played backwards half way through?

    There's an Origami rose based off this folding technique :)

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