Uncovering Nature's Design Strategies through Parametric Modeling, Multi-Material 3D Printing, and Mechanical Testing

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere201600848
Journal / PublicationAdvanced Engineering Materials
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


Nature produces a multitude of composite materials with intricate architectures that in many instances far exceed the performance of their modern engineering analogs. Despite significant investigations into structure-function relationships of complex biological materials, there is typically a lack of critical information regarding the specific functional roles of many of their components. To help resolve this issue, the authors present here a framework for investigating biological design principles that combines parametric modeling, multi-material 3D printing, and direct mechanical testing to efficiently examine very large parameter spaces of biological design. Using the brick and mortar-like architecture of mollusk nacre as a model system, the authors show that this approach can be used to effectively examine the structural complexity of biological materials and harvest design principles not previously accessible.

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