Abstract

Emerging 3D printing technologies are enabling the design and fabrication of novel architected structures with advantageous mechanical responses. Designing complex structures, such as lattices, with a targeted response is challenging because build materials, fabrication process, and topological design have unique influences on the structure’s mechanical response. Changing any factor may have unanticipated consequences, even for simpler lattice structures. Here, we conduct mechanical compression experiments to investigate varied lattice design, fabrication, and material combinations using stereolithography printing with a biocompatible polymer. Mechanical testing demonstrates that a higher ultraviolet curing time increases elastic modulus. Material testing demonstrated that anisotropy does not strongly influence lattice mechanics. Designs were altered by comparing homogenous lattices of single unit cell types and heterogeneous lattices that combine two types of unit cells. Unit cells for heterogeneous structures include a Cube design for a high elastic modulus and Cross design for improved shear response. Mechanical testing of three heterogeneous layouts demonstrated how unit cell organization influences mechanical outcomes, therefore enabling the tuning of an elastic modulus that surpasses the law of averages designed for application-dependent mechanical needs. These findings provide a foundation for linking design, process, and material for engineering 3D printed structures with preferred properties, while also facilitating new directions in design automation and optimization.

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