Our research mission is to leverage space (3D) and composition (X) to design and manufacture multi-functional materials and structures that utilize mass one to two orders of magnitude more efficiently than current state-of-the-art solutions. To realize this mission, we are currently focusing on four themes, and in particular on exploring ideas that lie at their intersections.
1. ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING
Additive Manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is the primary method by which we realize, study and validate design concepts. The technology is especially suited to our mission of improving material and structural performance by orders of magnitude since it is the both the method of creating parts for experimentation, and of the realization of functional end-use application as well. Our lab utilizes 3D printers that are capable of printing a range of metal, polymer and composite materials, and include maturing technologies such as Laser powder bed fusion (metals and nylons), material extrusion (thermoplastics, fiber composites) and material jetting (photopolymers, ABS).
2. CELLULAR MATERIALS
There are many strategies to increasing the performance of structures. The main focus in our group in this space is on cellular materials. These include 2-dimensional structures like honeycombs, as well as 3D lattices and surface based cellular structures such as gyroids. Within the cellular materials space, we are specifically interested in two sub-domains: the design of these structures for multi-functionality, as well as the development of predictive models for mechanical behavior and integrity.
3. MECHANICAL MODELING
Key to our exploration of the design space is understanding and predicting how 3D printed materials behave and fail. Simulation driven design is a key enabling component of realizing the full potential of Additive Manufacturing, but every such design relies on a valid and accurate material model that captures material properties such as elastic modulus, yield strength and fracture toughness. Additionally, a predictive life model is needed for components subjected to fatigue. All of this needs to be done in the context of the specific structures created by AM technologies as well as the uncertainties associated with prescribing them accurately. A thorough understanding of these issues is crucial not just to enabling accurate design but also to aiding in qualification and certification of critical AM parts.
4. BIOMIMETIC DESIGN
Any effort that seeks to improve the performance and utilization of materials and structures would do well to emulate nature, which is abundant with examples of efficient multi-functional performance. Our group currently focuses on the conscious emulation of form (as opposed to processes and systems). More specifically, we are interested in how nature uses lattice materials to achieve one or more functional objectives and how the underlying design principles may be abstracted for study, validation and implementation with AM.