Metamaterial Mechanisms is a research project from the Hasso Plattner Institute’s Human Computer Interaction Lab.
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.
The project is revolutionizing the 3D printing industry by integrating the structure and the function of a material within a single functional object.
The metamaterials are composed of grids of silicon cells. The patterns of these cells define how rigid the structure is.
In the photo below, you can see how a metamaterial door latch will function; a rotary movement on its handle draws a linear motion into its latch.
Also, to allow users to create their own metamaterial mechanism, a specialized 3D editor is used to place different types of cells on the structure. In addition, a simulation force test can be done to check deformations that might appear on the structure, by testing the functionality before printing the 3D object.
But metamaterials are not only a matter of functionality in the object itself, but they are also an approach to reduce excess material used in the building industry, a win-win approach for architectural fabrication.
In the future, these metamaterials will make the home building process more personalized and less harmful for the environment.