Finding the strongest shapes with 3D printing #3dthursday

Finding the strongest shapes with 3D printing. (Thanks to the community for the tip!)

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 computer simulations 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.

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….

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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

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