Comparative study of crumpling and folding of thin sheets

S. Deboeuf*, E. Katzav, A. Boudaoud, D. Bonn, M. Adda-Bedia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Crumpling and folding of paper are at first sight very different ways of confining thin sheets in a small volume: the former one is random and stochastic whereas the latest one is regular and deterministic. Nevertheless, certain similarities exist. Crumpling is surprisingly inefficient: a typical crumpled paper ball in a waste-bin consists of as much as 80% air. Similarly, if one folds a sheet of paper repeatedly in two, the necessary force becomes so large that it is impossible to fold it more than six or seven times. Here we show that the stiffness that builds up in the two processes is of the same nature, and therefore simple folding models allow us to capture also the main features of crumpling. An original geometrical approach shows that crumpling is hierarchical, just as the repeated folding. For both processes the number of layers increases with the degree of compaction. We find that for both processes the crumpling force increases as a power law with the number of folded layers, and that the dimensionality of the compaction process (crumpling or folding) controls the exponent of the scaling law between the force and the compaction ratio.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104301
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - 5 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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