Plastic lamp design folds like origami

By David Eldridge
Posted 17 November 2009 12:17 pm GMT

Using the inspiration of the playful forming of origami and Lego, a German design student has created a lamp which can be adapted into different sculptural shapes.
Alice Gruhle won a competition at Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach with her Polymorph concept, which is formed from diamond-shaped modules that link together and allow “folds” at the join.

Advice for adapting the concept for manufacturing was provided by Jörg Müller of Protomold, the rapid prototyping and manufacturing group with operations in the US, Japan, Germany and other European countries.

For her end of term show, Gruhle made the lamp from modules cut and milled from polypropylene sheets.

To take the product further, she used Protmold’s ProtoQuote and ProtoFlow analysis software to optimize the design for rapid injection moulding production.

She has since received her first delivery of injection moulded modules and is very pleased with the outcome.

“It’s really like Lego,” she says, “every part must be right so that they all fit together perfectly.”

The injection moulded modules are stronger than the earlier ones as the process allowed them to be 0.6mm thicker. The notches on the tips of the diamonds are square, rather than round, and the folding hinges could be bent in both directions – not just in one, as was the case with the prototype.

Since the first lamp was created Gruhle has used some 150 injection moulded modules to create a cocoon-like hanging lamp. Her design has subsequently been featured in German design magazines and will be on display at the Euromold exhibition in Franfurt in December.