Using 3-D printing to turn computer models into reality (w/ video)

Mar 19, 2013 by Steve Koppes
Graduate student Marc Miskin manufactured granular materials of various shapes in a 3D printer to test their aggregate properties when jammed into a confined space. Credit: Robert Kozloff/University of Chicago

Prof. Heinrich Jaeger's research group examines materials and phenomena that appear simple at the surface, but which reveal tremendous complexity upon close examination. One such phenomenon is jamming, in which aggregates of randomly placed particles, including spheres or more complicated shapes, or even molecules, transition from fluid-like to solid-like behavior.

Jamming lends itself to soft robotics, in addition to other applications as explored in a workshop at the University of Chicago last October. In recent and experiments, Jaeger, the William J. Friedman & Alicia Townsend Professor in Physics, and graduate student Marc Miskin investigate another aspect of jamming. They analyzed how the properties of a jammed material can be tuned by changing the shape of the constituent particles. Their results on "Adapting granular materials through artificial evolution" appeared Jan. 20 as an Advance Online Publication in Nature Materials.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Miskin and Jaeger addressed a daunting question in their research: Given a design goal for the jammed aggregate, for example to have it as stiff or as soft as possible in response to an applied force, what particle shape will best produce the desired outcome? For this complex optimization problem, they faced an infinite variety of shapes to choose from. So Miskin employed a computer algorithm—referred to as an "evolutionary optimization" in the accompanying video—to answer this question.

The computer designed particles by starting from a random shape, and then iteratively altered its configuration, at each stage performing a series of simulations that tested how close the performance approximated the stated goal. Once an optimal shape was identified, Miskin then manufactured a large number of copies with the lab's 3D printer for testing in a viselike squeezing apparatus to verify his algorithm's predictions.

Explore further: 3D printing is so last year: We're onto 4D printing now

More information: www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nmat3543.html

Related Stories

Images capture split personality of dense suspensions

Mar 30, 2012

Stir lots of small particles into water, and the resulting thick mixture appears highly viscous. When this dense suspension slips through a nozzle and forms a droplet, however, its behavior momentarily reveals ...

Recommended for you

Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

3 hours ago

When Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox in November 2010, it transformed the video game industry. The most inexpensive 3-D camera to date, the Kinect bypassed the need for joysticks and controllers by ...

Researchers finding applications for tough spinel ceramic

13 hours ago

Imagine a glass window that's tough like armor, a camera lens that doesn't get scratched in a sand storm, or a smart phone that doesn't break when dropped. Except it's not glass, it's a special ceramic called ...

Classroom acoustics for architects

Apr 23, 2015

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has published a free online booklet for architects to aid in the application of ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010/Part 1-American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, ...

JRC wins competition on indoor localization

Apr 23, 2015

A team of JRC researchers outperformed 27 teams from academia and industry across the globe and achieved best overall result at a competition on indoor localisation in Seattle, USA. Providing accurate position ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.