Rationalization of Triangle-Based Point-Folding Structures
In mechanical engineering and architecture, structural elements with low material consumption and high load-bearing capabilities are essential for light-weight and even self-supporting constructions. This paper deals with so called point-folding elements - non-planar, pyramidal panels, usually formed from thin metal sheets, which exploit the increased structural capabilities emerging from folds or creases. Given a triangulated free-form surface, a corresponding point-folding structure is a collection of pyramidal elements basing on the triangles. User-specified or material-induced geometric constraints often imply that each individual folding element has a different shape, leading to immense fabrication costs. We present a rationalization method for such structures which respects the prescribed aesthetic and production constraints and ?nds a minimal set of molds for the production process, leading to drastically reduced costs. For each base triangle we compute and parametrize the range of feasible folding elements that satisfy the given constraints within the allowed tolerances. Then we pose the rationalization task as a geometric intersection problem, which we solve so as to maximize the re-use of mold dies. Major challenges arise from the high precision requirements and the non-trivial parametrization of the search space. We evaluate our method on a number of practical examples where we achieve rationalization gains of more than 90%.