Innovators at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) have developed an improved method of manufacturing, assembling, and folding a three-dimensional shell made from fabric into a compact form. These shells are typically deployed or inflated at a later time than manufacturing; examples range from a simple beach ball to a complex shelter. This patent-pending method uses mathematical equations to achieve superior folding when compared to conventional methods. It also enables shells to be installed in their folded configuration, which offers improved simplicity over the typical approach of installing a shell and then folding and stowing it. JSC has applied for patent protection for this technology.
- Simple: Builds in sections, on a flat surface, and without inflation
- Easy to fabricate: Offers assembly in a folded configuration, eliminating the more difficult task of inflation and folding after construction
- Versatile: Features a mathematical optimizing technique that can be applied to any size of product, depending on material stiffness
- Economical: Eliminates the need for scaffolding and/or a framework to support a partially manufactured shell
- Automobile airbags
- Hot air balloons
- Inflatable decorations
JSC has applied for patent protection for this technology.
This technology is being made available through JSC's Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to consider licensing this technology for commercial applications.
If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:
Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
NASA's Johnson Space Center