A new innovation in 3D-printed materials lets objects be both hard and soft

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Imagine mechanical objects like door handles or pliers made entirely of rubberor at least of something that looks and feels like it. Researchers at Germany’s Hasso Plattner Institute have already done that using a new technology they call “metamaterial mechanism.” They used modeling software to 3D-print objects composed of a combination of hard and soft cells. These cells are either spaced tightly or more loosely, which allows the object to have both a firm structure and flexibility.

Researchers hope this will eventually allow entire structures to be built from one material that won’t require assembly, which could save time and money. Watch the video above to see how effective metamaterial mechanism can be.