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Better machines through origami

Industrial Origami's metal-folding techniques are designed to slash the expense of making appliances and car parts.

Is making machines more efficiently as simple as folding paper cranes? Industrial Origami is betting that its technologies for folding sheet metal will help manufacturers cut costs and waste on the factory floor.

Industrial Origami's metal forming techniques work with existing manufacturing equipment but slash costs by 70 percent, said president and CEO Rick Holman. It offers a software add-on for CAD design systems.

Corner creases called "smiles" are key.
Corner creases called "smiles" are key. Industrial Origami

Industrial Origami focuses on car parts and home appliances as well as heating and air conditioning system. It licenses its fold-and-cut technologies to Whirlpool and Eaton Electric, which makes enclosures for electric equipment.

Key to reducing the amount of materials, joints and fasteners are indentations punched into the folding edges of the metal. Shaped like an upturned mouth, these "smile" shapes also help the metal forms to bear weight, according to Industrial Origami.

The San Francisco-based company, which presented at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco Tuesday, is seeking to add $10 million to the $15 million it has already raised.