STILFOLD introduces AI to empower “industrial origami” design and manufacturing technology
STILFOLD - the Swedish startup renowned for its origami-inspired approach to design and manufacturing - is joining forces with Linköping University to optimise the performance of its sustainable manufacturing technology using artificial intelligence.
The STILFOLD technology, dubbed “industrial origami”, involves the use of robotic arms to fold flat sheet metal over curves to form light and sustainable new structures using minimal component parts. The technology is currently being used to build the chassis of a light electric motorcycle called the STILRIDE 1, the world’s first climate-neutral car with Polestar, and to develop greener urban mobility infrastructure with Alstom.
Currently, the proprietary “STILWARE” software enables designers to create folding instructions for a given design, before it is folded into shape. Now, STILFOLD will now work with Linköping University to empower and automate elements through AI and optimize material behavior, process parameters, machine interactions, and control strategies.
They will create an AI model which can predict the optimal sequence of folds which should be used to produce any given shape. They will also work to enhance STILFOLD’s existing technology infrastructure to optimise how its robots are programmed to create folds.
STILFOLD will train their models on new and existing data from the steel industry - as well as proprietary STILFOLD data including the outcomes of different folding patterns, as well as how different materials respond to different folding techniques.
STILFOLD will to do this integrate digital twin technology, reinforcement learning (RL), and detailed material models embedded in physics-informed neural networks (PINN), to deliver advanced computational tools. As a result it will make it even easier for STILFOLD users to use the curve-folding technology to build robust and complex designs.
The project is being backed by Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, who will be injecting 10 million SEK into the project as part of their Advanced Digitalization programme.
Earlier this year, the first STILFOLD machine was sold to Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the USA, where it will be used by students and academics for education and innovation.
The project, operating under the working name ODEN-AI (Optimized Digitalization for Environmentally NeutrAI Industrialization), is scheduled to run until 2026. Besides Linköping University and STILRIDE, Outokumpu (STILFOLD’s steel partner) and Jernkontoret will contribute expertise to the project.
In addition to this project, Vinnova has granted a research project for STILFOLD trials of recycled aluminium, as part of the “LIGHTer” strategic innovation program coordinated by Research Institutes of Sweden AB (RISE). The investment is aimed at bolstering the expertise and capabilities of Swedish enterprises, enabling them to evolve into highly specialised suppliers of lightweight solutions for Swedish industry.
STILFOLD has also been awarded a prestigious EIT Manufacturing Grant of €816,000 to further develop their technology and software. The grant is dedicated to projects that are pushing the boundaries of “Environmentally Sustainable Manufacturing through Circular Business Models and New Technologies”.
The addition of these grants bring STILFOLD and STILRIDE’s total funding to date to 10 MEUR.