Plastic objects that connect Wi-Fi? They’re already here!


A new type of plastic objects was created, generated by 3D printers that have the ability to get connected to Wi-Fi networks without the need for batteries or electronic elements, paving the way for a future of new and more complex intelligent devices accessing the Internet.

An example for a utility of such an object, would be for example a pack of your laundry detergent, order for a new one as it is almost empty, or a volume switch for speakers, without any type of cables.

You may now be asking yourself, how’s that possible. Well, we owe this breakthrough to a team at the University of Washington who built a simple system with a plastic switch, a spring, a gear and an antenna, and when this system is activated by pressure or simple movement, it uses Wi-Fi signals at reach for communication.

The goal of the researchers, according to Electrical Engineer Vikram Lyer, is simply to allow people by simply using a 3D printer, to create a device with the ability to interact with other devices, of course the great challenge was how to create a device, using just plastic.

The core of the mechanism is a conductive, plastic and copper filament printed on a 3D printer, which allows it to interact with a Wi-Fi connection, and a gear that is used to generate bits 1 and 0 to generate digital communication.

For the time being, although these objects are fully functional, they are still too ruff looking for the general public, still needing improvement and small touch-ups in order to reach the market of the great masses.

In the future these devices will have endless applications, and they will be a simple approach to connect our daily basis objects to the digital world simplifying our lives further, but it will still take some time until this kind of product can reach our houses.