3D Printing 'Smarter' Foam Materials at the Micro Scale

Foams are, by nature, disordered materials studded with air pockets of varying sizes. Lack of control over the material's architecture at the micrometer or nanometer scale can make it difficult to adjust the foam's basic properties. Now, Eric Duoss and a team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers are using additive manufacturing to develop 'smarter' silicone cushions. By architecting the structure at the micro scale, they are able to control macro-scale properties previously unachievable with foam materials. The researchers are aiming to replace the foams currently in defense and aerospace applications.