New Material Could Provide for Future Smooth Travels
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on October 08, 2018 |

A new race is afoot, or rather there’s a new focus emerging that is shifting away from traditional materials and developing new ones for industries such as automotive and aerospace. While technology continues to evolve, resulting in stronger steel or advanced uses for graphene, other researchers have honed in on composite materials and the potential capabilities of 3D printing.

Scientists from the University of Surrey teamed with counterparts from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of California, Irvine to develop a new material that is stiff, strong and flexible—and it’s 3D printed.

Researchers offer a glimpse into the different levels needed to 3D print a new material. a) 3DW lattice material; (b) yellow indicates brazing locations; (c) a cross-section of 3DW lattice with the stiff skeleton and free lattice members in the structure’s core; and (d) SEM image of the brazed top face, which confirmed metallurgical bonding of the metallic lattices. (Image courtesy of the University of Surrey.)
Researchers offer a glimpse into the different levels needed to 3D print a new material. a) 3DW lattice material; (b) yellow indicates brazing locations; (c) a cross-section of 3DW lattice with the stiff skeleton and free lattice members in the structure’s core; and (d) SEM image of the brazed top face, which confirmed metallurgical bonding of the metallic lattices. (Image courtesy of the University of Surrey.)

The team’s goal was to unveil a novel damping mechanism exhibited by 3D woven lattice materials (3DW) while also focusing on its response to vibrations. Damping is a material’s ability to bounce back or return energy to a system. Vibrations, especially in vehicles, must be absorbed to produce a more pleasant ride. Existing damping materials, like rubber, are typically less stiff, whereas metals have nearly no damping at all.

“The idea of a composite that resolves the paradox of stiffness and damping was thought to be impossible, yet here we are,” said Stefan Szyniszewski, the lead author of the study and assistant professor of Materials and Structures at the University of Surrey. “This is an exciting development that could send shock waves through the car, train and aerospace manufacturing industries. This is a material that could make the vehicles of the near future more comfortable than ever before.”

Steps involved in the team’s research included creating a woven fabric of metallic wires by stacking mutually orthogonal warp and fill wires. Z-wires were used to wrap around the top and bottom fill wires to bind the fabric together. The next step involved joining the wires into a 3D-interconnected, low-bearing stiff frame that intertwined with free-flowing lattice members to generate damping.

The team used Laser Doppler Vibrometry (LDV) equipment to measure the frequency response of 3DW lattice material at high frequencies. (Image courtesy of the University of Surrey.)
The team used Laser Doppler Vibrometry (LDV) equipment to measure the frequency response of 3DW lattice material at high frequencies. (Image courtesy of the University of Surrey.)

The end result is a material that is similar to polymers in terms of its damping properties, but which is also porous. This gives it the ability to absorb vibrations from the inside while still remaining rigid—elements that could be beneficial for an array of applications that require vibration attenuation at high frequencies.

Additionally, the researchers noted that the material is “highly scalable, allows multi-material lattices and is amenable to selective bonding, which is crucial for our architectures.” This technology has the potential to set the stage for future travel—potentially by train, plane or automobile—without passengers feeling any physical bumps along the way.

Interested in more 3D printing innovations? Check out Plant-Based 3D Printing Material Developed by ORNL and The Significance of Completely Biodegradable 3D-Printed Plastic.


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