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Published on April 10th, 2017 | by Geetika Bhasin

3D printing used LLNL researchers for developing miniature lattice structures for research

The researchers at the LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) have been using 3D printing to make small lattices on which tests were carried out to analyze the behavioral patterns of these structures under pressure. The results of these experiments are used for application in the engineering and design fields.

The Eiffel tower is a classic example of the lattice structure from trestle bridges. The lattice structure enables low-density structures with a great durability, resilience, and strength, making it suitable for engineering designs. A huge amount of research is ongoing about the shortfalls of these lattice structures, and their behavior on failing under pressure. Till date, these studies had to be conducted on large structures of lattices to ascertain the impact. Now with 3D printing technology, the lattice structure can be reduced to a very small degree, and the researchers at LLNL were analyzing whether the same principles applied to small scale models.

For the research, 3D printed mini lattice structures were devised and tested were conducted to monitor their failure behavior. Researcher Mark Messner predicted that there would be a balance between a positive and negative yield mode at a critical relative density. A newly made equivalent continuum model was used to measure the results. The critical relative density that he referred to was something that practical tests needed to determine, as it depends on several modeling assumptions that are strongly influenced by the manufacturing process. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was introduced in the research as the critical relative density had to be determined using practical tests, and researcher Holly Carlton made use of its Advanced Light Source.

Messner and Carlton published the research results in the Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids and Acta Materialia respectively. The easy scalability of the lattice using the 3D printing technology, along with the relative cheapness of its application, could prove indispensable in this kind of ongoing research.

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