OS debuts self-folding maps

​ OS debuts self-folding maps as part of it's ongoing development to well-loved paper maps.

For generations, outdoor enthusiasts have struggled to easily and accurately fold the larger OS maps. The precise folds required to get an OS Explorer or OS Landranger map to fold up neatly into the cover are tricky even in ideal conditions, and can be nearly impossible in high winds. Ordnance Survey even released a video starring mountaineer and explorer Bonita Norris showing how to fold a map.

A number of solutions have been proposed for this. Different methods of folding maps have been proposed. Some people have developed their own folding system, cut off the covers altogether or make a slit in the map to make it easier to fold in multiple directions. However, all these still leave manual actions to fold or re-fold your map.

This is the drive behind the latest innovation from OS: the self-folding map.

“It’s a complex set of folds, so anchoring the natural rubber self-returning devices accurately has been a challenge. Getting the correct balance of tension to ensure the map stays open when needed but snaps folded at a single touch means we have to use very precise control.”

Chief Paper Corrugation Specialist and origami fan Dr. Louise Flection

While the self-folding map is a prototype at the moment, Dr. Flection is positive about its future:

“It solves one of the biggest problems customers have highlighted! The great thing about the system is that it may even be possible to sell kits to allow customers to retrofit old maps with the self-folding mechanism. As many of the parts required are easily available, I’m hoping to see this on the shelves as early as 2020.”

Self-folding is a proposed enhancement to the existing OS Landranger (1: 50 000 scale) and OS Explorer (1 25 000 scale) maps available from Ordnance Survey and covering all of Britain. For technical reasons there are no plans to extend it to OS Tour maps.

It’s part of ongoing development of the traditional paper map by Ordnance Survey, which recently saw mobile downloads included with each paper map.

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