Origami and sheet metal don’t seem like a natural combination, but Industrial Origami brings the two together to make products out of sheet metal cheaply and efficiently. The company, which presented this week at the Always On Stanford Summit, cuts “smiles”–AKA tabs–into sheet metal that make it simple to build products.
The process drastically reduces the material required to make sheet metal contraptions. According to Industrial Origami, an oven made with its process uses only four components, while traditional ovens require seven. And a car chassis using the tabbing method can be constructed from only 36 parts. Minimizing and flat-packing parts cuts down on costs–at least 20% for appliances and car parts.
Some Fortune 100 companies (Industrial Origami won’t name names) have already signed up for Industrial Origami’s services. But the company still has hurdles to deal with–the sheet metal process requires manufacturers to change their lines. That can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the product. And since Industrial Origami doesn’t sell actual products–just intellectual property–it collects royalties on sales and cost savings. Combined with the cost of changing lines, Industrial Origami’s services might be too pricey for many manufacturers to handle, even taking into account potential savings on parts and labor.