There are some DIY projects that are cool, some that are useful, and then there are others — like the full-running Origami V-12 four-stroke engine — that are simply awesome.
Built by a self-employed Montreal man named Yee, the Origami V-12 is a paper engine that pumps just like real engines (with the help of electrical wires, a resistor, a motor and a battery holder). It looks complicated because it is: One V-12 engine consists of 195 sheets of fine-printed patterns. From those sets, 1, 978 pieces are used in total. And it only weighs 3.2 lbs when finished. This makes your 1, 000-piece puzzle look like a piece of cake.
But if you have the intestinal fortitude to go through with it, the build comes together rather beautifully: The engine representations include a compound crankshaft (running at 13.5 rpm), cooling fan, 12 rods, 12 pistons and 12 spark plugs (which "ignite" on each cycle pump).
You can buy your own Origami V-12 engine online for about $110. The package includes, along with the paper, a PDF with 575 pages of detailed, picture-filled instructions. You will also need white glue and a sharp knife with a comfortable handle, for precise maneuvering.
Because of the use of materials other than paper as well as the cuttings, the modern standard definition of Origami does not define this design as a real Origami, as some readers have pointed out. A Kirigami structure, where the builder can make small cuts in the paper, would be more appropriate.*(See correction note)
Check out the video after the jump:
According its creator, all the patterns are printed on acid-free heavy paper, which means that it won’t fade away after a few years. You can also buy the patterns straight from the creator and print them out yourself, but we think that’s a terrible idea, especially for us at the office. When we’re not writing about the latest gadgetry, you can find us wrestling (OK, pleading) with the copy machine to do our bidding, and the daemon never does listen.
So if you choose to try it out to avoid your family in another completely obsessive hobby, we recommend that you place this very delicate origami in a safe area, away from foot traffic and rabid dogs.
Thanks to John M. for the tip!
Note: While many people do not consider this a true origami work, it is known that during the Edo period in Japan, cuttings were often incorporated and the definition was not as stringent (with only one sheet and geometric folds). In addition, Akira Yoshizawa, considered the master of modern Origami until his death three years ago, was known to create several Origami structures through cut pieces. The creator of the V12 piece was a strict Origami artist for 20 years before expanding his range with other materials.