Squids, octopi and similar marine animals propel themselves through water by means of a water jet. While this has been known for years, building a mechanism to duplicate it has been challenging - until now, as Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA developed a 3D printed design that does exactly that.
The design includes flexible balls that, when squeezed with a piston, blast water at high velocity in the desired direction. This actuator can then be used to build almost-silent low-power engines for watercraft, such as scuba diver handheld scooters, boat positioning systems and more.
We're interested because the device was possible only through 3D printing, which enabled the production of the complex features. Even better, the actuator can be produced in a single print.
While 3D printing can be used to make everyday things, it is really a means to make things not possible to make with other techniques.