Imagine a bottle of laundry detergent that can sense when you’re running low on soap — and automatically connect to the internet to place an order for more.
University of Washington researchers are the first to make this a reality by 3-D printing plastic objects and sensors that can collect useful data and communicate with other WiFi-connected devices entirely on their own.
With CAD models that the team is making available to the public, 3-D printing enthusiasts will be able to create objects out of commercially available plastics that can wirelessly communicate with other smart devices. That could include a battery-free slider that controls music volume, a button that automatically orders more cornflakes from Amazon or a water sensor that sends an alarm to your phone when it detects a leak.
“Our goal was to create something that just comes out of your 3-D printer at home and can send useful information to other devices,” said co-lead author and UW electrical engineering doctoral student Vikram Iyer. “But the big challenge is how do you communicate wirelessly with WiFi using only plastic? That’s something that no one has been able to do before.”
The system is described in a paper presented Nov. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia.
To 3-D print objects that can communicate with commercial WiFi receivers, the team employed backscatter techniques that allow devices to exchange information. In this case, the team replaced some functions normally performed by electrical components with mechanical motion activated by springs, gears, switches and other parts that can be 3-D printed — borrowing from principles that allow battery-free watches to keep time.
Backscatter systems use an antenna to transmit data by reflecting radio signals emitted by a WiFi router or other device. Information embedded in those reflected patterns can be decoded by a WiFi receiver. In this case, the antenna is contained in a 3-D printed object made of conductive printing filament that mixes plastic with copper.
Physical motion — pushing a button, laundry soap flowing out of a bottle, turning a knob, removing a hammer from a weighted tool bench — triggers gears and springs elsewhere in the 3-D printed object that cause a conductive switch to intermittently connect or disconnect with the antenna and change its reflective state.
Information — in the form of 1s and 0s — is encoded by the presence or absence of the tooth on a gear. Energy from a coiled spring drives the gear system, and the width and pattern of gear teeth control how long the backscatter switch makes contact with the antenna, creating patterns of reflected signals that can be decoded by a WiFi receiver.
“As you pour detergent out of a Tide bottle, for instance, the speed at which the gears are turning tells you how much soap is flowing out. The interaction between the 3-D printed switch and antenna wirelessly transmits that data,” said senior author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “Then the receiver can track how much detergent you have left and when it dips below a certain amount, it can automatically send a message to your Amazon app to order more.”
The team from the UW Networks & Mobile Systems Lab 3-D printed several different tools that were able to sense and send information successfully to other connected devices: a wind meter, a water flow meter and a scale. They also printed a flow meter that was used to track and order laundry soap, and a test tube holder that could be used for either managing inventory or measuring the amount of liquid in each test tube.
They also 3-D printed WiFi input widgets such as buttons, knobs and sliders that can be customized to communicate with other smart devices in the home and enable a rich ecosystem of “talking objects” that can seamlessly sense and interact with their surroundings.
Using a different type of 3-D printing filament that combines plastic with iron, the team also leveraged magnetic properties to invisibly encode static information in 3-D printed objects — which could range from barcode identification for inventory purposes or information about the object that tells a robot how to interact with it.
“It looks like a regular 3-D printed object but there’s invisible information inside that can be read with your smartphone,” said Allen School doctoral student and co-lead author Justin Chan.
The Latest Bing News on:
3-D printing plastic objects and sensors
- Dozens, and counting, of uses for silveron April 30, 2021 at 3:29 pm
Without silver, we may not have solar panels, one of the greatest boons to clean energy generation we've yet seen.
- 3D printing's new challenge: Solving the US housing shortageon April 27, 2021 at 8:49 pm
A new generation of startups wants to disrupt the way houses are built by automating production with industrial 3D printers. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, uses machines to deposit ...
- Global 3D Printing Filament Market Research Report Analysis, Industry Size and Growth 2026on April 27, 2021 at 12:53 pm
Global 3D Printing Filament Market Analysis, 2021???, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 25% during 2021-26. The increasing demand for the adoption of a simpler method for product ...
- 3D Printing Glasson April 26, 2021 at 5:00 pm
For most of us, 3D printing means ... in which the plastic burns away in a high-temperature kiln. The final technique creates an internal void to make it appear an object is inside another object.
- 3D Printing Process Creates Objects Made of Both Liquid and Solid Materialson April 25, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Typical plastic 3D printing processes turn liquids into solids. Now researchers have invented a way to integrate materials directly into the process to fabricate an object with both solid and liquid ...
- 3D Printing in Healthcare Market Forecast to Reach $2.5 Billion by 2026on April 19, 2021 at 10:28 am
The 3D Printing in Healthcare Market is forecast to reach $2.5 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 17.75% from ...
- Wearable sensors that detect gas leakson April 15, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Developing a sensor that ... making visible objects disappear by controlling the refractive index of light. Metasurface is especially used to transmit two-way holograms or 3-D video images by ...
- Your 3D Printer Can Finally Make Biodegradable Objectson April 6, 2021 at 9:31 am
A Czech 3D printing company called Fillamentum has released the first ostensibly biodegradable filament, the stringy plastic used to extrude printed objects. Called NonOilen, the filament is made ...
- Moving bed designed for faster, more cost-effective 3D printingon April 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm
thus reducing both waste and printing time. Commonly used FDM (fused deposition modelling) printers build objects from the bottom up, by extruding successive layers of melted plastic. If those ...
- Direct 2D-to-3D transformation of pen drawingson March 31, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Materials scientists aim to integrate such pen drawings to develop 3D objects ... 4D printing can be applied to create 3D structures on a variety of substrates including glass, plastic, poly ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
3-D printing plastic objects and sensors
The Latest Bing News on:
- Airport Security System Market Size & Share, Growth, Scope, Challenges, Key Players, Overview and Forecast to 2027, Fortune Business Insightson April 29, 2021 at 6:10 am
The global airport security systems market size is projected to reach USD 11.45 billion by the end of 2027. The ...
- Under The Sea GPS Uses Soundon April 26, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Researchers at MIT have a new technique, underwater backscatter localization or UBL, that promises to provide a low-power localization system tailored for the subsea environment. Like other ...
- backscatter radaron April 21, 2021 at 5:01 pm
But what is a phased array antenna system? How do they work? With the help of 1024 LEDs we’ll show you.
- Drive-Through Inspection will Enable Fast Flow at Border Pointson April 20, 2021 at 9:00 pm
The fast inspection of vehicles at border points can contribute significantly to the smooth traffic flow. A new system can efficiently identify and intercept threats and contraband without inhibiting ...
- CBP Awards Drive Through Inspection System Contract to Smiths Detectionon April 17, 2021 at 3:32 am
consisting of transmission X-ray and backscatter systems for the inspection of trucks, containers and other vehicles at land ports of entry for dangerous and illicit goods, including explosives, ...
- Smiths Detection awarded U.S. Customs and Border Protection contract for drive-through X-ray inspection portalson April 15, 2021 at 6:49 pm
The award includes an initial order for a HCVP™Z60 drive-through X-ray inspection system which will be installed ... consisting of transmission X-ray and backscatter systems for the fast and ...
- Smiths Detection awarded U.S. Customs and Border Protection contract for drive-through X-ray inspection portalson April 15, 2021 at 4:00 am
Smiths Detection, a global leader in threat detection and security screening technologies, today announces it has been awarded an indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity contract with the U.S. This ...