Honeycomb sandwich panels have been used in structural applications for several decades in various industries. While these panels are lightweight and rigid, their design has not evolved much due to constraints imposed by available manufacturing processes and remain primarily two-dimensional extrusions sandwiched between facings. With the growth in additive manufacturing, more complex geometries can now be produced, and advanced design techniques can be implemented into end-use parts to obtain further reductions in weight, as well as enable greater multi-functionality. The question therefore is: how best to revisit the design of these honeycomb panels to obtain these benefits? In this work, we take a bio-inspired design approach to answering this question, primarily since the hexagonal lattice is so commonly found in wasp and bee nests, including the well-known bee’s honeycomb that inspired these panel designs to begin with. Whereas prior honeycomb panel design has primarily focused on the hexagonal shape of the unit cell, in this work we examine the relationship between the parameters constituting the hexagonal cell itself, specifically the wall thickness and the corner radius, and examine out-of-plane features that have not been previously translated into panel design. We report our findings from a study of insect nests across 70 species using 2D and 3D measurements with optical microscopy and X-ray tomography, respectively. These design principles were implemented in the design of honeycomb panels manufactured with the selective laser sintering process and subjected to experimental testing to study their effects on the mechanical behavior of these panels.
- Describe the benefit of bio-inspired design
- Understand why SLS is used for complex lattice designs
- Describe the relationship between bio-inspired design and engineering