With the proliferation of additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies, a broader palette of material properties can be elicited from cellular solids, also known as metamaterials, architected foams, programmable materials, or lattice structures. Metamaterials are designed and optimized under the assumption of perfect geometry and a homogeneous underlying base material. Yet in practice real lattices contain thousands or even millions of complex features, each with imperfections in shape and material constituency. While the role of these defects on the mean properties of metamaterials has been well studied, little attention has been paid to the stochastic properties of metamaterials, a crucial next step for high reliability aerospace or biomedical applications. In this work we show that it is precisely the large quantity of features that serves to homogenize the heterogeneities of the individual features, thereby reducing the variability of the collective structure and achieving effective properties that can be even more consistent than the monolithic base material. In this first statistical study of additive lattice variability, a total of 239 strut-based lattices were mechanically tested for two pedagogical lattice topologies (body centered cubic and face centered cubic) at three different relative densities. The variability in yield strength and modulus was observed to exponentially decrease with feature count (to the power −0.5), a scaling trend that we show can be predicted using an analytic model or a finite element beam model. The latter provides an efficient pathway to extend the current concepts to arbitrary/complex geometries and loading scenarios. These results not only illustrate the homogenizing benefit of lattices, but also provide governing design principles that can be used to mitigate manufacturing inconsistencies via topological design.

Topological homogenization of metamaterial variability
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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2022.01.021