Honeycombs, bone marrow, crystals, bubbles in a mud puddle…The natural world has relied on the benefits of the physical properties in lattice structures and complex geometries since atoms have first started to bump into each other. But these structures have largely been unavailable or very difficult to manufacture for our own products. Additive manufacturing has opened up our options of utilizing these tried and true designs to leverage the benefits of complex geometrical parts.
Ramaco 3D’s partnerships with the industry leaders in 3D printing technologies and materials allow us to print parts at the highest resolution and quality of complex geometries with nearly any material property. Whether you’re wanting to reduce the weight of a solid piece while maintaining the strength and mechanical performance of a part or looking for a biocompatible durable breathable alternative to foam, 3D printed lattices can provide solutions that weren’t available before. Take a look at some of these options and start thinking about the applications in your industry.
Let’s start with the basics. A lattice is a regular, repeating, three-dimensional structure. These geometries are typically ideal for the 3D printing processes and have numerous benefits. Ramaco 3D can take your design for a solid part and convert it to a lattice model. Performance properties of the part can be tweaked by changing the strut thickness, geometry, and cell size depending on your goals. Lattices are an excellent option for subtracting weight and material while maintaining the strength of a part. Or if you’re working with an elastomeric material, lattices can provide excellent cushioning, heat dissipation, breathability, and impact absorption.
Have you ever observed bubbles in a puddle or cracks in dried mud and your eye sees a pattern, but you can’t quite recognize it? You’re observing a Voronoi pattern which is a naturally occurring mathematical pattern consisting of lines that connect to points that are the centers of the shapes adjacent to them. The mathematically inspired design is aesthetically appealing for its organic shapes, replicable patterns and the ease that most solid parts can be converted into geometric art.
Triply Periodic Minimal Surfaces
Take a wire hanger and dip it in a soapy sink; when you remove it, the soapy film suspended between the wire frame is the triply periodic minimal surface of that shape. Again, these mathematically inspired designs offer advantages to parts. The design can be patterned out at an easily tweakable scale and structure. Like any lattice, triply periodic minimal surfaces can reduce weight while maintaining strength, but triply periodic minimal surfaces offer particular advantages with their huge amount of surface area for parts that require the most efficient heat dissipation or filtration.
Don’t reinvent what has been engineered throughout evolution. The biological world has capitalized on the laws of physics to create efficient and ideally performing structures. Consider the part that you are creating; there is likely an organic structure that has been tested and refined throughout the millennia to achieve the performance you’re after. Consider it as a phase of R&D already done for you.