One of the primary issues with 3D printing technology is the lackluster material properties that stem from the layering process, which tends to create weakness in certain areas of a part. But researchers from Purdue University have been taking notes from mother nature, leading to the development of a technique that enables 3D printed cement paste to become tougher when placed under pressure.
The research team’s 3D printing process is inspired by the shells of anthropods like lobsters and beetles. By using designs inspired by these types of shells, they hope to control how damage spreads between layers of the concrete material. Ultimately, this 3D printing technique could lead to more resilient structures that can better withstand natural disasters.
“Nature has to deal with weaknesses to survive, so we are using the ‘built-in’ weaknesses of cement-based materials to increase their toughness,” said Jan Olek, a professor in Purdue’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering.
There are a number of advantages to using 3D printing technology to create structures from materials like cement paste, mortar, and concrete. For instance, engineers have more control over design and performance, and also have the ability to construct more complex buildings. But certain technicalities like lack of strength have stifled efforts to fully integrate 3D printing into the construction industry.
The Purdue researchers are aiming to change this by using 3D printed cement paste to create bioinspired structures. The team is also utilizing micro-CT scans to understand the behavior and weaknesses of 3D printed cement materials. Certain undesirable characteristics, such as pore regions found at the “interfaces” between layers, tend to crack under pressure.
After becoming inspired by the way a mantis shrimp use a “dactyl club” appendage that grows tougher on impact through twisting cracks, the team set out to find a solution to this layering problem. And so, using various bioinspired elements, the researchers printed honeycomb, compliant, and Bouligand designs.
These so-called “architectures” enable new behaviors once the 3D printed element hardened. For example, the Bouligand architecture made the material more crack-resistant, while the compliant architecture reduced brittleness and made the cement-based elements act as a spring.
The Purdue University researchers are planning to look at other ways to build more resilient 3D printed structures through bioinspired designs
A research paper on their findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the academic journal Advanced Materials. They also presented their research at the 1st RILEM International Conference on Concrete and Digital Fabrication.
Source: Science Daily
License: The text of "Researchers Develop Technique That Makes 3D Printed Cement Stronger Under Pressure" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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