Functionally Graded Printing
MIT Medial Lab
Functionally graded materials–materials with spatially varying composition or microstructure–are omnipresent in nature. From palm trees with radial density gradients, to the spongy trabeculae structure of bone, to the hardness gradient found in many types of beaks, graded materials offer material and structural efficiency. But in man-made structures such as concrete pillars, materials are typically volumetrically homogenous. While using homogenous materials allows for ease of production, improvements in strength, weight, and material usage can be obtained by designing with functionally graded materials. To achieve graded material objects, we are working to construct a 3D printer capable of dynamic mixing of composition material. Starting with concrete and UV-curable polymers, we aim to create structures, such as a bone-inspired beam, which have functionally graded materials.
This research was sponsored by the NSF EAGER award: Bio-Beams: FGM Digital Design & Fabrication.