Corrugated paper

One way of making a strong bridge is by folding the paper in a zigzag pattern like a fan. The corrugations make the paper stiffer. As gravity pulls the weight towards the ground, it applies a force to the paper. As the folded paper is quite stiff it spreads this force out along the length of the fold, allowing the supports to carry the weight.

Take a corrugated paper and, hold it in your hands with a gap in the middle. Now ask someone to place a weight above the gap. Can you feel the force pushing on your hands, even though the weight is not directly above them? Now try with the non-folded paper, but be ready to catch the weight!

Paper is more difficult to bend when it has creases and therefore can hold more weight. Just one sheet of paper can support up to 600grams.


A familiar use of this principle is corrugated iron and corrugated boxes. You can see corrugated iron all around you; most noticeably as roofing material for houses and sheds.

Corrugated iron is an affordable, easy-to-use building material. It is a lightweight, stackable, transportable, bendable, temporary material.

Henry Robinson Palmer is credited with inventing corrugated iron, which makes the sheets much stronger than a flat piece of iron. Corrugated iron was first manufactured in 1829.

Corrugated iron was the most successful building material to emerge from the industrial revolution because it was cheap and versatile. Because of this, it has become known as the 'poor-man's material'.  But the simplicity of the design in increasing strength is amazing.

Corrugated iron is a great example of innovation. Henry Palmer looked at a flimsy sheet of iron and thought 'folding would make that stronger.' His simple idea has become a vital part of modern engineering. So never give up on your ideas no matter how simple they are. With a little work, your idea can be the next big thing

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