Take the art of Orgami, the process of folding and unfolding a single piece of square paper and creating a bird, or a frog. And then take the art of metal fabrication. Add a computer and a fully articulated robotic arm and what do you have? Folded sheet metal like you've never seen it before.
Robofold is a set of arms that bends sheet metal in a infinite number of prescribed manners. Each piece of sheet metal has been cut into a very specific shape to 'guide' the folding process. By simulating the folding and parametrically calculating the folds in CAD, one can easily focus the mechanical stress and create very specific folds that don't just follow straight lines, but curve as well. Architectural ornamentation or car components like fenders can be created in a repeatable fashion.
Watch this video of Robofold creating the 'Asimov Chair' by Joris Laarman to get an better idea of how the process works.
Amazing, no? Now take a look at these designs by Robofold founder Gregory Epps. Everything you see has been folded by the same process.
And then take a look at this column cladding, designed by famed Architecture firm Zaha Hadid and crafted by Robofold.
Imagine for a second the possibility of creating body parts for a Supercar. With curved folds, whole parts could be put under tension to better withstand dents. Oh, and look absolutely fabulous! That would be something near impossible to do with standard sheet metal stamping. Furthermore, irregular designs can be crafted, as demonstrated above. No extra dies required.
For your viewing pleasure, take a look at these wonderful machines in action.