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VWN Printer Friendly News: Mimicking nature’s cellular architectures via 3D printing

 Mimicking nature’s cellular architectures via 3D printing
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Date posted: 08/02/2017
Posted by: Site Administration
This story is from the category
Computer Aided Manufacture

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being compressed.

The plant’s hardiness comes from a combination of its hollow, tubular macrostructure and porous, or cellular, microstructure. These architectural features work together to give grass its robust mechanical properties.

Inspired by natural cellular structures, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and MIT have developed a new method to 3D print materials with independently tunable macro-and microscale porosity using a ceramic foam ink.

Their approach could be used to fabricate lightweight structural materials, thermal insulation or tissue scaffolds.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science.

“By expanding the compositional space of printable materials, we can produce lightweight structures with exceptional stiffness,” said Jennifer Lewis, Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at SEAS and senior author of the paper. Lewis is also a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss.

The ceramic foam ink used by the Lewis Lab contains alumina particles, water, and air.

“Foam inks are interesting because you can digitally pattern cellular microstructures within larger cellular macrostructures,” said Joseph Muth, a graduate student in the Lewis Lab and first author of the paper. “After the ink solidifies, the resulting structure consists of air surrounded by ceramic material on multiple length scales. As you incorporate porosity into the structure, you impart properties that it otherwise would not have.”

See the full Story via external site: www.seas.harvard.edu