Although 3D printing isn't new, in the past few years, the use of 3D printing is rapidly opening up a lot of new applications. At the University of Chicago, 3D printing is used to test complex qualities of shapes made via computer.
In recent computer simulations and experiments, Prof. Heinrich Jaeger's research group studies 'jamming' and analyzes how the properties of a jammed material can be tuned by changing the shape of the constituent particles.
Graduate student Marc Miskin and professor Jaeger addressed a daunting question in their research: Given a design goal for the jammed aggregate, for example to have it as stiff or as soft as possible in response to an applied force, what particle shape will best produce the desired outcome? For this complex optimization problem, they faced an infinite variety of shapes to choose from.
So Miskin employed a computer algorithm - the computer designed particles by starting from a random shape, and then iteratively altered its configuration, at each stage performing a series of simulations that tested how close the performance approximated the stated goal.
Once an optimal shape was identified, Miskin then manufactured granular materials of various shapes in a 3D printer to test their aggregate properties when jammed into a confined space.
Their results on "Adapting granular materials through artificial evolution" appeared Jan. 20 as an Advance Online Publication in Nature Materials.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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