Talk by Alexandra Ion on Interactive Metamaterials

2017.10.03 | Marianne Dammand Iversen

Date Thu 05 Oct
Time 14:00 14:45
Location Ada-333

Presenter: Alexandra Ion

Title: Interactive Metamaterials


Digital fabrication machines such as 3D printers excel at producing arbitrary shapes, such as for decorative objects. 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.

So far, metamaterials were understood as materials with unusual deformation—but we want to think of them as functional devices. We use the concept of metamaterials to design structures that allows us to integrate functionality into the material. We demonstrate three aspects of functional metamaterial objects:

(1) We integrate mechanisms within the material structure. 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. This allows us to implement, e.g. a door latch, pliers, or a drawing machine from only one piece, without moving parts.

(2) Going beyond mechanical functions, we explore how to embody mechanical computation into 3D printed objects, i.e., without electronic sensors, actuators, or controllers typically used for this purpose. We demonstrate interactive objects based on this concept, such as a combination lock that are printed in one piece.

(3) To further enhance 3D printed objects, we use metamaterials to change their outside. Such metamaterial textures can perform a controlled transition between two or more textures to allow designers to shape how objects interact with the environment and with the tactile sense of the user.

The key benefit of our approach is that the resulting objects can be 3D printed in one piece and thus do not require assembly. We integrate more functionality into objects, i.e., mechanical, computational, or textures, without electronics, but purely within the material structure.

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