Inflatables remix: Paperflatables!

Our PLIX Inflatables activity makes use of up-cycled materials (like chip and snack bags) to make interactive, pneumatic creations, inspired by soft robotics. Since fusing mylar (shiny snack bag interiors) together requires an iron, we’ve been exploring a heat-free method for making inflatables that uses only paper and tape. Here’s a quick overview of that process!

@Chris_Dorman came up with this process during the beta-testing of this activity. She’s created an amazing video overview of this process with a lot more detail–be sure to check that out, too!

I wanted to try to create the Crawling Critter that appears on the PLIX Inflatables pattern cards:

The process required just origami paper, masking tape, a straw, and a pair of scissors:

Start by folding your piece of paper in half:

Use your scissors to cut out a shape of your choosing near the center of the paper (you can also use an xacto knife for this step!). A diamond shape creates a bending motion, perfect for my critter!

Tape over the shape you’ve cut out on both sides of the paper. In addition, seal the open edges of the paper (no need to tape over the side of the paper that has the fold!).

Cut out a small piece of one of the corners so that you can insert your straw or tubing. Once you’ve inserted it, tape over the straw to make sure it’s well-sealed.

Add any extra features (like eyes and antennae!) and inflate!


Here are some other shapes I explored through paperflatables!

Layered folds

Diamond take 1:

Diamond take 2