Crayfish inspired innovative 3D printing
Engineers at the university of southern California (USC) viterbi school of engineering are using a lobster inspired 3D print shield to prevent sports injuries. This kind of lobster print armor may be very effective in preventing chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Both lobsters and prawns have a shelled polysaccharide shell, which is spirally aligned in the structure of these shells, which are constantly spinning. This fiber alignment makes it difficult for small cracks to expand into larger cracks, making it difficult for lobsters to break down.
Inspired by this, the researchers found that lobster shells are a great model for protective body armor. According to introducing, lobster shell complex spiral fiber alignment based 3 d printing body armor may prevent serious injuries, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the cause of the disease is on the football, boxing, and so on movement of the head is hit by repeatedly.
To make a prototype for 3D printing, the USC researchers need more than an existing 3D printer. Their "electrically assisted 3D printing process" may be the first to use electric fields to change the material's additive process, which aligns the material layer in a physical and elastic manner similar to a lobster shell.
This electrically driven armor is made of plastic and carbon nanotubes. After printing, the researchers compared it with a similar but non-electrified model. The results show that this more innovative design has an excellent effect.
"A carbon nanotube is a microfiber, so basically when you try to pull it, because there's a lot of fiber inside it, it's more than a thousand times more powerful than plastic. Adding nanomaterials to plastic can increase the strength by four times. If we add nanofibers and then align these nanofibers with a 1,000-volt electric field, the strength will be eight times higher, "the researchers explained.
Now, the researchers plan to turn this lobster inspired innovation into a more effective device to prevent sports injuries. It will involve making bigger equipment, and will also try to have biocompatible materials such as hydrogels. Eventually, by scanning the body parts of athletes in 3D, the researchers thought they could build custom 3D printed protective gear.
In addition to the enhanced structure, the researchers believe that this innovative 3D printing manufacturing capability poses a huge potential for aerospace, mechanical, and tissue engineering applications.