Metamaterial Mechanisms – 3D Grids with Mechanical Properties


Metamaterials are engineered 3D cell grids that have properties that are not found in nature. Recently, a group of Hasso-Plattner Institute researchers (supported by a Shapeways educational grant) enhanced metamaterial design to include mechanical functionality – the cell grids are designed with motion, shear and compressive forces in mind to accomodate specific functions (e.g. a door latch with one part/composite assembly).

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.

Check out the summary of their efforts integrating structural and mechanical functions on the project page, and note the more detailed academic paper documenting the work.

via Jessica Rosenkrantz