Large antenna reflectors used in space have to be folded before launching. Silicone rubber is commonly used as antenna material due to its ability to maintain a shape without external supports upon deployment. However, localized vertices could appear during the folding process, which might lead to material yielding and unrecoverable deformation after deployment. In this paper, the cross folding process of a thin elastic sheet, a common folding method in packaging a reflective membrane, was studied numerically with the aim of eliminating material failure in the sheet. The deformation, stress distribution, and peak stress of the sheet and the dependency of those properties on geometrical parameters were systematically investigated. Based on these studies, two methods, i.e., central hole method and central slit method, were explored to reduce the peak stress caused by cross folding. The results showed that a central slit parallel to the first folding crease was the most effective in reducing the peak stress without causing significant damage to the antenna.

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