North Carolina State University professor Michael Dickey and his research team have devised a way to turn sheets of plastic into boxes and other shapes simply by applying heat to them. The discovery could completely revolutionize the origami industry.

According to New Scientist, Dickey and his crew print black ink along the folding lines to mark where the folds should go. "Since black absorbs more energy than paler colours, the lines first shrink more than the surrounding material and then fold when subjected to light," they explain. "Increasing the width of the line increases the angle of the fold, making it possible to produce a range of shapes."

Now Dickey and his crew need to figure out how to do this with cardboard, before the holiday wrapping season begins. [New Scientist]