Complex 3D printing sensors and controls with metamaterials
If you have a mechatronics project in mind, a 3D printer can be of great help. Gears, levers, adapters, housings – if you can imagine it, a 3D printer can probably provide you with a useful part. But what about more complicated parts, like sensors and user input devices? You will surely always be forced to buy stuff like this from a commercial supplier. Law?
Maybe not, if a new method of 3D printed metamaterial from MIT gets some traction. The project is called “MetaSense” and seeks to create conformal 3D printed structures that have elements integrated to detect their deformation. According to [Cedric Honnet], MetaSense structures are based on a grid of shear cells, printed from flexible filament. Some of the shear cells are just structural, but some have opposite walls imprinted from a conductive filament material. These form a capacitor, the value of which changes when the distance between the plates and their orientation relative to each other changes when the structure is deformed.
The video below shows some simple examples of monolithic MetaSense structures, like switches, accelerometers, and even a full joystick, all printed with a multi-material printer. The design of these structures is facilitated by software developed by the MetaSense team which models the deformation of a structure and automatically selects the best location for the addition of conductive cells. The complete project documentation contains interesting future directions, including monolithic printed actuators.
[via MIT News]