Aug.29, 2013

Engineers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Purdue University collaborate on 3D printing research to develop new technology which will soon help any deployed soldier to create, fix damaged parts immediately on site using logical structures in existing materials.

Researchers found that combining the general purpose, finite-element analysis software ABAQUS with Python, an open-source code used to optimize logical structures such as topologically interlocked structures, improves energy absorption and dissipation, productivity and lower maintenance costs.

Topological Interlocking Structures. (Credit: the U.S. Army Research Laboratory)

The combination of ABAQUS and Python provides an automated process for auto-generation of the geometries, models, materials assignments and code execution, said Ed Habtour, a research engineer with ARL's Vehicle Technology Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

He said the code is developed to assist designers with tools to model the new generation of 3-D additive manufactured and TISs structures.

"The benefit for the Soldier is an after-effect. The TIS would provide an excellent energy absorption and dissipation mechanism for future vehicles using additive manufacturing," Habtour said. "Subsequently, the Soldier can print these structures in the field using additive manufacturing by simply downloading the model generated by the designer/vendor."

Topological Interlocking Structures. (Credit: the U.S. Army Research Laboratory)

The research team developed logical structures from the mini-composition of tetrahedron-shaped cells in existing materialsan approach ARL research engineers say is a vast departure from the military's tendency to build new materials to meet existing problems.

"Traditionally, every time the U.S. Army encounters a problem in the field the default has been to develop new and exotic materials. Using logical structures can be effective in solving some critical and challenging problems, like the costly and time-consuming certification process that all new materials must face," Habtour said.

This logical structure is based on principles of segmentation and assembly, where the structure is segmented into independent unit elements then reconfigured/assembled logically and interlocked in an optimal orientation to enhance the overall properties of the structure, Habtour explained.

The researchers are focusing on topologically interlocked structures using VTD's 3-D additive manufacturing approach to build 2-D and 3-D structures based on cells in the shape of Platonic solids.

Habtour said new structures created from this process are designed to be adaptive and configurable to the harsh conditions like random and harmonic vibrations, thermal loads, repetitive shocks due to road bumps, crash and acoustic attenuation. An added bonus he said is that these structures are configured to prevent crack propagation.

"Sometime in the near future, Soldiers would be able to fabricate and repair these segmented structures very easily in the front lines or Forward Operating Bases, so instead of moving damaged ground or air vehicles to a main base camp for repair, an in-field repair approach would essentially mean vehicles would be fixed and accessible to warfighters much faster at lower costs," said Habtour.

"We want to change the conventional thinking by taking advantage of exciting materials and manipulating the structure based on the principle of segmentation and assembly."

 

Source: arl.army.mil

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

 

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