New 3D-printed material technology lets objects be both hard and soft (Video)
New 3D-printed material technology lets objects be both hard and soft. Recently, researchers started to engineer not only the outer shape of objects, but also their internal microstructure. Such objects, typically based on 3D cell grids, are also known as metamaterials. Metamaterials are artificial structures with mechanical properties that are defined by their usually repetitive cell patterns, rather than the material they are made of.
We push the concept of metamaterials further by creating objects that allow for controlled directional movement. This allows users to create objects that perform mechanical functions. Our objects thereby implement devices that transform input forces and movement into a desired set of output forces and movement—also known as mechanisms.
We demonstrate metamaterial objects that perform a mechanical function. Such metamaterial mechanisms consist of a single block of material the cells of which play together in a well-defined way in order to achieve macroscopic movement. Our metamaterial door latch, for example, transforms the rotary movement of its handle into a linear motion of the latch.
We demonstrate pliers from 3D-printed material with one hinge array in the center which makes the brackets and the handles move with respect to each other.
We demonstrate pliers from meta-material with one hinge array in the center which makes the brackets and the handles move with respect to each other. Our meta-material Jansen walker consists of a single block of cells—that can walk.
The key element behind our meta-material mechanisms is a specialized type of cell, the only ability of which is to shear. Unlike the rigid cell, this shear cell is designed to deform when a force is applied, more specifically to shear, which allows for controlled directional movement.
In order to allow users to create meta-material mechanisms efficiently we implemented a specialized 3D editor. It allows users to place different types of cells, including the shear cell, thereby allowing users to add mechanical functionality to their objects.