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Gemma Small

Gemma Small

Premier Award Winner 2016
Engineered Cardboard Origami Floor Joists: Part 2

Research Abstract

Domestic flooring systems are based on traditional techniques and for the majority have remained unchanged for centuries. Timber is most commonly used for floor joists, despite its manual handling requirements and difficulty in ensuring its sustainability. The aim of this research is to investigate the use of GatorDuct, a cardboard product used for ducting, as a feasible alternative to traditional timber floor joists. The joists have been created using rigid foldable origami techniques, a type of origami that allows folds to be created in a thick material without causing local deformation. The folding pattern was formed using CNC cutting procedures and optimised through the use of a numerical algorithm to minimise waste material. 


Preliminary mechanical tests were carried out to establish the material properties of the cardboard in pure compression and tension; this allowed the design of a more detailed test procedure. Joists were then tested in a four point bending arrangement; whilst strain gauges, LVDT’s and PIV analysis created a detailed picture of how the joists behaved under both static and cyclic tests. The understanding gained from these tests enabled the design of a cardboard joist and developed an appreciation of the feasibility of a novel engineered cardboard joist.

Winner's Bios

Gemma Small

University of Salford, UK

Gemma is from Preston, Lancashire and in 2016 graduated from the University of Salford with a First Class MEng in Civil Engineering. Whilst studying at University she also completed summer placements and an industrial year placement with Costain. She worked on a range of projects including; a Tunnel Remediation scheme at Heathrow Airport, a Managed Motorway Contract and the Heysham to M6 Link Road.


After graduating she has taken a full time role with Costain, she is currently working on the A556 Knutsford to Bowden Improvement scheme and will soon be moving into a structural design role.