Instead of just working on improving what 3D printers are capable of, researchers at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut are also finding ways to make everyday objects more 3D printer-friendly, including those that rely on moving parts that can t be reproduced during the printing process.
So how do you replicate an object that moves when you ve eliminated all of its moving parts?
By using something called metamaterials which rely on an internal grid of cells, aligned in specific patterns, to give them mechanical properties.
The Hasso-Plattner-Institut researchers took things one step further by developing metamaterials that allowed for repetitive and pre-defined directional movement, in order to replicate specific motions or movement.
For example, 3D-printing a door handle and latch isn t impossible, but it would require you to replicate every last moving part and then assemble them all when complete—a time consuming process.
But by using metamaterials, where turning the handle causes the inner cell structure to collapse in a domino effect which then causes the latch to retract, the mechanical object can be 3D-printed in one pass saving time, money, and materials.