Concrete with spatially varying microstructure
Functionally graded materials, or materials with spatially varying composition or microstructure, are ubiquitous in nature. Examples include human bones, palm trees, or bird beaks—all of which exhibit optimal structural efficiency. In human-made structures such as concrete columns, however, materials are commonly homogeneous. Although physical uniformity enables easier manufacturing and construction of building materials, functionally graded materials demonstrate superior strength-to-weight ratios and use-based material properties.
With this in mind, MIT Media Lab researchers are developing a 3D printer capable of dynamically combining component materials. Working with concrete and UV-curable polymers, the scientists aim to create structures, such as a bone-inspired beam, based on the use of functionally graded materials.
Contact: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mediated Matter Group, Cambridge, MA, USA.
For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future