This 3D printed door latch can be unlocked with a PIN code, yet doesn’t require electricity

You won’t find metamaterials in nature — in fact they may seem to defy its very laws. Consider the nanoscale wrinkles in wallpapers that can completely absorb sound. Or the light-bending particles that form the fabric of rudimentary invisibility cloaks. By experimenting with the shape, size, and arrangement of particles, engineers can create metamaterials that do seemingly impossible things.

Last September a team of researchers from Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany created 3D-printed objects with simple internal structures that could perform relatively complex functions. They called their door latches, pliers, and Jansen walkers “metamaterial mechanisms.”

“The field of metamaterials is an emerging and very interesting one,” Alexandra Ion, lead researcher and PhD student, told Digital Trends at the time. “Metamaterials can employ behavior that traditional materials cannot. We set out to explore this space and started by simply wondering if we can achieve, for example, rotation to implement a rotary knob.”

After developing a handle, Ion and her team realized that, by adding other cells through a custom metamaterial editing program that allows them to create rigid and shear blocks, they could attach a latch to their handle and create much more sophisticated systems.

This year they’ve added yet another feature: a PIN pad.

The PIN pad consists of a series of bistable springs, some of which are “locked” and other of which aren’t. By pressing the correct combination on the pad, the springs all switch to the unlocked position, allowing the handle and latch to turn.

“The goal of this work was to explore how we can create ‘materials that are machines’ at the same time,” Ion said of their metamaterial machines project.

Of course, these machines aren’t entirely practical. We certainly don’t recommend securing your home with them. Nonetheless, as Ion pointed out, the technology used to develop them could inspire cheaper and simpler manufacturing processes.

“These types of machines are very simple to fabricate, compared to the conventional manufacturing process of, for example, a door latch mechanism, which consists of many parts and requires assembly,” she said. “We envision that … doors can be 3D printed with the door latch mechanism already in place, in one single fabrication step.”

Emerging Tech

Pepsi, StartRocket team up to launch satellites for energy drink ad in night sky

Pepsi is working with StartRocket to launch an energy drink advertisement into the night sky using miniature satellites. The Russian startup is looking to send its system into orbit in 2021.
Gaming

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Gaming

Have an issue with your 3DS? We can help you fix it with these common solutions

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.
Photography

Fujifilm X-T30 vs. Sony A6400: Midrange mirrorless cameras compared

The Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony A6400 are two of the best cameras you can buy for under $1,000, but which should you choose? Each has an edge in certain situations which makes picking a winner difficult, but here's how they compare.
Outdoors

Rough it in absolute comfort with the best sleeping pads available

Shopping for a sleeping pad for your next backpacking trip? Don't buy something that feels like a cold slab of stone. Narrow your selection with our carefully selected list of the best sleeping pads available.
Emerging Tech

Public vote opens for new planet name, but Planet McPlanetface won’t fly

The largest unnamed world in our solar system needs an official title, and you can help choose it. The scientists who discovered the icy planetoid recently announced details of a public vote offering three choices.
Emerging Tech

How MIT hacked horticulture to cultivate a hyper-flavorful basil plant

At MIT, Caleb Harper used his personal food computers to alter the climate in which he grew basil. Exposing it light for 24 hours a day changed the flavor profile of the plant, making it spicier and stronger.
Emerging Tech

Watch the fearsome DroneHunter X3 pluck rogue UAVs out of the sky

How do you stop enemy drones in their tracks? DroneHunter X3 is a new autonomous anti-drone technology which outruns and then captures rogue drones in midair. Check it out in action.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX’s main Falcon Heavy booster is lost at sea after falling off drone ship

SpaceX has lost the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket after a successful mission last week that ended with it landing on a drone ship. SpaceX said rough seas resulted in the rocket toppling over and falling into the ocean.
Emerging Tech

Sweden is building a road that recharges electric buses that drive over it

The Swedish transport administration is exploring special roads which will charge vehicles’ batteries as they drive over them. It will test the idea with a short sample stretch of road.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

Watch a pack of SpotMini robot dogs perform a terrifying feat of strength

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robotic dog is now going around in packs, and the results are somewhat concerning. Check out the video to see what kind of shenanigans 10 of them got up to recently ...