Origami engineering — the use of origami principles in engineering applications — provides numerous opportunities to revolutionize the way we design, manufacture, assemble, and package products and devices. By combining origami principles with active materials, we can create reconfigurable products and devices that can fold and unfold on demand. In origami, the folded medium is paper, yet many engineering applications require materials with finite thickness to provide the necessary strength and stiffness to achieve the desired functionality. In such applications, it is important to distinguish between bending and folding so that we understand the differences in material behavior when actuated. In this paper, we propose definitions for bending and folding for materials used in engineering applications. The literature is reviewed in detail to provide context and support for the proposed definitions, and examples from our own research with active materials, specifically, magneto-active elastomers (MAE) and dielectric elastomers (DE), are used to illustrate the subtle, yet important, differences between bending and folding in materials with finite thickness.

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