Let’s take the example of an aircraft wing. For anyone who hasn’t brushed up on their bird anatomy recently, a bird’s wing is very similar to an aircraft wing (see photo above): It’s adapted for flight by being hollow – yet filled with criss-crossing struts or trusses that add structural strength while keeping the overall weight down to a minimum. But to mimic the bird’s bone geometry requires a lot of man-made assembly and a great many nuts and bolts - all of which add weight to the final wing structure.
Can we take it a step further? Imagine if we could create that same 3D printed drone – but this time using a multi-material 3D printer – rather like the Objet Connex system. This would allow you to further optimize your load distributions using different multi-material strength gradients – all within one seamless structure. You may have seen this photo below already – it’s from our recent education blog post on ’3D Printing Material Distributions’ (courtesy of Payne & Michalatos) that examines this concept in greater detail. See how the white material inside the transparent material helps to further support the load distribution from above – yet both the white and transparent materials are 3D printed together at the same time and are one homogenously connected piece.