Experts Create 3D-Printed Structure That Senses User Interaction

Oct, 2021 - By SMI

Experts Create 3D-Printed Structure That Senses User Interaction

Engineers found a way to add sensing capabilities into a 3D-printed structure of iterative cells, allowing them to make experimental models of interactive technologies.

There are many studies that are developing smarter technologies by adding sensors to them. These processes may need external input of necessary sensing materials. A team of engineers at MIT 3D-printed metamaterial (material developed to have characteristics that are not found in naturally occurring materials) structures with electrodes integrated into them directly to enable sensing of user interaction in the object. Using the technique, these 3D-printed structures detect how the force is applied to an object. The structures are made in a way that allows designers to 3D-print interactive input devices without requiring much time.

The team claims that their work can aid in customizing a product for people with special sensing requirements. According to the team, the project can be integrated directly into the material structure of an object, which will enable a new smart environment where the object can sense every interaction with it. For instance, a couch produced out of this smart material will be able to detect the user’s body when the couch is used and it could collect the data such as body posture to indicate correction as well as it will be able to enable specific functions such as turning on the TV automatically after sensing interaction with the couch.

The metamaterial mechanism used in the project gets stretched or compressed when force is applied. The team 3D-printed a metamterial joystick made up of flexible cells and employing capacitive sensing, they calculated the magnitude and the direction of force applied and also rotation and acceleration. The scientists also built a software called MetaSense that allows this rapid prototype so that user can custom integrate sensing into the metamaterial structure. The team now focuses on developing larger sensing mechanisms and improving the algorithms in the software for further better simulations.

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