We address the unsolved problem of unfolding prismatoids in a new context, viewing a “topless prismatoid” as a convex patch—a polyhedral subset of the surface of a convex polyhedron homeomorphic to a disk. We show that several natural strategies for unfolding a prismatoid can fail, but obtain a positive result for “petal unfolding” topless prismatoids. We also show that the natural extension to a convex patch consisting of a face of a polyhedron and all its incident faces, does not always have a nonoverlapping petal unfolding. However, we obtain a positive result by excluding the problematical patches. This then leads a positive result for restricted prismatoids. Finally, we suggest suggest studying the unfolding of convex patches in general, and offer some possible lines of investigation.
O'Rourke, Joseph, "Unfolding Prismatoids as Convex Patches: Counterexamples and Positive Results" (2012). Computer Science: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.