Researchers are finding ways to 3D print with elimination of moving parts.
It’s already hard to wrap your head around what’s possible with 3D printing. Now researchers at are taking 3D printing to a whole new level: They're learning how to print everyday objects that rely on moving parts—a door latch is the example they use—without actually printing the moving parts.
The process involves something called metamaterials, according to an article in Gizmodo. These metamaterials rely on an internal grid of cells, aligned in specific patterns, which in turn, give them mechanical properties. Taking things to a whole other level, researchers then developed metamaterials that allow for repetitive and pre-defined directional movemen, and voila, a door latch without parts that can actually turn and open.
The reason this advancement is important is that printing objects with lots of mechanical parts can be incredbly time-consuming, given that you have to replicate each little part and then piece the parts together. With metamaterials, the object can be 3D printed in one pass, which saves time, money and materials. No doubt, this research could be a major jumpstart for 3D printing.