Purdue researchers are working with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop a technology for creating parts out of interlocking segments.


The building blocks could be in the shape of cubes, faceted tetrahedral, or other geometries, and may be created layer-by-layer using a 3-D printer. Then, the components can be assembled into parts for vehicles or other equipment.

"The surface topology is important because these building blocks have to be arranged relative to each other in an appropriate fashion that functions," said professor of mechanical engineering Thomas Siegmund, working with postdoctoral research associate Yuezhong Feng. "You could make a brick wall in the classical sense, one brick on top of another. But then they can easily be knocked out of place. However, if you take the same bricks and tilt them so the edges are facing you, you get this topological interlocking structure, one inclined face interlocking with the next inclined face, and so on."

Such interlocking structures will absorb vibration and withstand shock better than conventional structures.

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