Research Project

Materials with Controlled Microstructural Architecture

This DARPA project studies architectural and microstructural optimization of 3D Woven structural materials. To develop novel structural materials in a far more rapid and efficient manner, we use topological optimization methods to predict ideal material architectures and novel textile processing to fabricate those architectures. The designed and manufactured 3D Woven materials possess superior permeability, stiffness, and heat transfer properties.

Figure 1. (a) As-received samples and different bonding methods on them.

Figure 1. (a) As-received samples and different bonding methods on them.

Optimizing material properties by iterating through a series of experiments – fabricate, characterize, and repeat – can be time consuming and expensive. Here we propose to develop novel structural materials in a far more rapid and efficient manner using topological optimization methods to predict ideal material architectures and novel textile processing to fabricate those architectures. Unlike foams, tubes, or truss architectures which are commonly used porous structures, we believe 3D braiding and weaving could possess dramatically superior permeability, specific stiffness, heat transfer, damping, and other properties.

Figure 1. (b) Simulation of permeability with X-ray tomography input.

Figure 1. (b) Simulation of permeability with X-ray tomography input.

After the samples are manufactured “as-received,” we EDM cut them into designed shapes then bond them with soldering, brazing, electroplating, or vapor phase aluminization which the process is shown in Figure 1 (a). After permeability and mechanical properties testing, X-ray tomography is used to reconstruct 3D structure of the tested samples. Then we run FEM simulation with these data and compare modeling and experimental results. Figure 1 (b) shows how the model looks like with X-ray tomography input.

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