Dec 23, 2015 | By Tess

Every day we write about the amazing and diverse products and innovations made possible by 3D printing technology, and we are continually impressed by the ever growing technology. Of course, as 3D printing is still a relatively young technology, 3D makers have faced certain limitations in terms of which materials they can use to additively manufacture as well as how to optimally design 3D printed objects. Fortunately, however, 3D printing researchers and developers all over the world continue to work on the technology, to improve and extend its capabilities. One particular partnership, between the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and COMSOL Multiphysics, has undertaken the development of material design and is working towards optimizing 3D printed products through their internal structures.

Advancements in both material design and multimaterial 3D printing have recently taken off, with microstructures being additively manufactured, and internal designs being made to maximize flexibility or various other properties of 3D printed objects. The researchers at TNO, for their part, have been utilizing multiscale modeling and multiphysics simulation in order to test and explore material design for 3D printing on a virtual level.

Crucial to their research and development has been COMSOL’s Multiphysics software, which can be used for various physics and engineering purposes and allows for virtual simulations of physics-based problems. The team at TNO have been using the Multiphysics software to design and test various structural properties of single unit cells. As explained on COMSOL's site, “The team first designed a single unit cell with twice the stiffness in one direction as the other and analyzed the material behavior for a given geometry.” Using COMSOL Multiphysics, the team at TNO were able to virtually simulate the behavior to determine the amount of stress applied to the structure to “fit their desired stiffness matrix.”

The researchers at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research have also been working to simulate and design anisotropic materials, that is to say, materials that possess different properties when measured in different directions, as well as working with multimaterial microstructures to control such material properties as thermal conductivity, for instance.

TNO has also been focusing on optimizing material design on a larger scale using multiscale modeling in order to apply their microstructure simulations to life-size 3D printed products. Additionally, they have been working to effectively translate the virtual material design into 3D printed objects by playing with various densities, the results can be seen in the 3D printed hammer handle featured below. As noted on COMSOL’s blog, “The design was comprised of different unit cell types at the microlevel and optimized for proper stiffness and minimal material use.”

TNO’s stated mission is to “[connect] people and knowledge to create innovations that boost the competitive strength of industry and the well-being of society in a sustainable way.” With their headway into 3D printing and design technologies using multiphysics and multiscale modeling we are sure to hear of more developments in the industry from them soon.



Posted in 3D Design



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