In this paper, we explore how to embody mechanical computation into 3D printed objects, i.e., without electronic sensors, actuators, or controllers typically used for this purpose. A key benefit of our approach is that the resulting objects can be 3D printed in one piece and thus do not require assembly.
We are building on 3D printed cell structures, also known as metamaterials. We introduce a new type of cell that propagates a digital mechanical signal using an embedded bistable spring. When triggered, the embedded spring discharges and the resulting impulse triggers one or more neighboring cells, resulting in signal propagation. We extend this basic mechanism to implement simple logic functions.
We demonstrate interactive objects based on this concept, such as a combination lock. We present a custom editor that allows users to model 3D objects, route signals, simulate signal flow, and synthesize cell patterns.