By Adam Zewe | MIT News
Cellular solids are materials composed of many cells that have been packed together, such as a honeycomb. The shape of those cells largely determines the material’s mechanical properties, including its stiffness or strength. Bones, for instance, are filled with a natural material that enables them to be lightweight, but stiff and strong.
Inspired by bones and other cellular solids found in nature, humans have used the same concept to develop architected materials. By changing the geometry of the unit cells that make up these materials, researchers can customize the material’s mechanical, thermal, or acoustic properties. Architected materials are used in many applications, from shock-absorbing packing foam to heat-regulating radiators.
Using kirigami, the ancient Japanese art of folding and cutting paper, MIT researchers have now manufactured a type of high-performance architected material known as a plate lattice, on a much larger scale than scientists have previously been able to achieve by additive fabrication. This technique allows them to create these structures from metal or other materials with custom shapes and specifically tailored mechanical properties.