UBC mechanical engineering master's student Ata Sina has created paper that folds all by itself.
Sina said he was inspired by origami and calls it "origami engineering", which combines both art and science.
A computer program makes small cuts and creases on a sheet of paper. Special thermoplastic polymers are then attached to the paper. When the paper is placed in an oven at around 110 degrees Celsius for 10 to 20 seconds, the polymers react to the heat. As they shrink, they pull the paper with it, folding it into a three-dimensional shape.
Sina said that this concept could be applied to packaging, decorations, toys, folding beds, step stools, mattresses, and noise and heat insulation.
Here's a video of a 3D snowflake made with the same process.