Here's a term you may as well get used to now: radar-1770984402.html">metamaterials. They refer to artificial structures that, unlike naturally occurring materials that have physical properties dictated by their chemical compounds, have properties engineered to behave in unusual ways. Some metamaterials deflect radar or sound, other sharpen light or even make objects invisible.
Now metamaterials are beginning to infiltrate the realm of 3-D printing. Scientists at the University of Potsdam in Germany have used a 3-D printer to spit out a structure that has moving parts from a single block of material, reports fastcodesign.com. These "metamaterial mechanisms" move thanks to specifically organized composite cells. Certain areas of the mechanism are designed to be less dense and structurally weaker, so that they deform in predetermined ways when force is applied.
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Essentially a machine is making a machine -- a notion that may be alarming to sci-fi fans of sufficient nerdiness.
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