How to Make a Buckyball Out of Origami

Written by victoria kay
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Email

You can create an origami buckyball with the phizz unit technique. "Phizz" is an acronym for pentagon-hexagon zigzag, a modular form of origami. Buckyballs are models of the spherical Buckminsterfullerene molecule, named after Richard Buckminster Fuller. This molecule is composed of 60 carbon atoms and is shaped like a soccer ball. To create the origami buckyball, 30 phizz units are individually folded then interlocked together to create the figure. Additional units can be added to the buckyball to create more elaborate figures.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 30 sheets of origami paper, measuring 3 by 3 inches

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Fold a sheet of paper in half horizontally. Create an accordion fold by folding both edges back toward the centre crease. Firmly press the folds in the paper. Turn the paper so that the points of the folds face upward and create an "M" shape in the paper.

  2. 2

    Fold the left corner of the rectangle over toward the opposite edge, creating a right triangle. Fold the rectangular strip over to meet its edge with the edge of the right triangle and create an Isosceles triangle.

  3. 3

    Fold the remaining rectangle up and crease it at the base of the triangle. Fold the rectangle diagonally to meet its left edge with the base of the triangle. Turn the paper over to the opposite side. Fold the left corner over to meet the edge of the triangle, creating a second Isosceles triangle.

  4. 4

    Repeat the folds on each of the 30 sheets of paper. Ensure that all folds are even and edges meet, as this will be what locks the units together. Gently lift the tabs on each end of the units to create space between the tab and the rest of the piece.

  5. 5

    Select three of the folded units and begin assembling the buckyball. Gently open the bottom fold of the first unit and insert the tab of the second unit, following the direction of the fold. Holding the two units together, gently open the fold of the second unit and insert the tab of the third unit. Insert the tab of the first unit into the fold of the third unit.

  6. 6

    Add units to the figure, one at a time, following the same three-unit pattern until the buckyball is complete. Press the units together to ensure that they are inserted securely and the buckyball will hold its shape.

Tips and warnings

  • Use three different colours of origami paper to create patterns in the buckyball.
  • If no origami paper is available, use memo pads to create the individual phizz units.
  • Use 90 phizz units to create a more elaborate buckyball.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.