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I have to design a science display board consisting of 20 panels 2m x 2m high and wide, which can fold up as a giant pamphlet.

The difficulty is how to load and unload them from a lorry in less than an hour. The display boards fold out of the back of a lorry and down a ramp where they have to go oblique to one another.

Do you know a strong, simple, stable hinge which is fast to unfold from a lorry, which doesn't make the panels fall over?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to engineering SE. I would rephrase the last sentence to "How can I design a strong, simple, stable hinge .....?" $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena May 18 '16 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ I would think you'd want to load/unload the stack in its folded configuration, and then unfold once it's in its final position as a separate step. Any ordinary piano hinge should suffice for connecting the panels together. $\endgroup$ – Dave Tweed May 18 '16 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. If there are 20 panels of 30 kilos a piece, then the total would weigh 500 kilos and the panels would have 3d moulds in them so folded up version would be 4 x 2 x 2 meters. Perhaps it's the easiest option, it would require a long ramp and some good motors for loading and unloading it $\endgroup$ – aliential May 18 '16 at 16:52
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There are lots of ways to approach this depending on what your exact requirements are.

The first question is whether you need an actual 'hinge' or if you just want to be able to fix the boards at a specific angle. In the latter case screw or bolt in brackets at the appropriate angle may be the simplest solution.

If you want permanently fixed hinges to allow the whole thing to fold up then piano hinges are a good solution as they are neat and low profile and can be cut to the length you require from long strips. The downside in this situation is that they will only allow you to fold in one direction (ie not past 180 degrees).

Another common solution is 'lift off' half pin hinges which can be easily assembled and disassembled as they just slot together without tools or additional fixings. This also gives you a lot of versatility as each board can be transported as a separate unit and you can assemble them in any combination or configuration you want. They will let you fold through close to 360 degrees, depending on exactly how they are positioned, the downside being that they will stick out on the sides of the boards and leave a gap between them when assembled.

If you want to be able to fold the panels completely flat and in both directions then you may need a double action hinge. If these were designed as a pair of half pin hinges joined by a short bar/link then this would also make assembly and disassembly easier as you can just drop the link in without having to lift the whole panel.

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