Metamaterial Textures

Alexandra Ion, Robert Kovacs, Oliver Schneider, Pedro Lopes, Patrick Baudisch

We integrate multiple dynamic textures into 3D printed objects’ cell structure.

We present metamaterial textures—3D printed surface geometries that can perform a controlled transition between two or more textures. Metamaterial textures are integrated into 3D printed objects and allow designing how the object interacts with the environment and the user’s tactile sense. Inspired by foldable paper sheets (“origami”) and surface wrinkling, our 3D printed metamaterial textures consist of a grid of cells that fold when compressed by an external global force. Unlike origami, however, metamaterial textures offer full control over the transformation, such as in between states and sequence of actuation. This allows for integrating multiple textures.

Such metamaterial textures are useful for, e.g., for exploring parameters in the rapid prototyping of textures. Metamaterial textures are also robust enough to allow the resulting objects to be grasped, pushed, or stood on. This allows us to make objects, such as a shoe sole that transforms from flat to treaded, a textured door handle that provides tactile feedback to visually impaired users, and a configurable bicycle grip.

We present an editor assists users in creating metamaterial textures interactively by arranging cells, applying forces, and previewing their deformation.


Alexandra Ion, Robert Kovacs, Oliver Schneider, Pedro Lopes, Patrick Baudisch. 2018. Metamaterial Textures. In Proceedings of CHI’18. Montreal, Canada, April 21 – 26, 2018. DOI:

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