A computational approach to the creation of digital matter
Human creativity, combined with bioinspiration and modern, computational tools is now able to derive the most captivating designs, elevating both structural appearance and functionality to unprecedented levels. The physical realization of these designs, however, remains a bottleneck. On the other end, the grand challenge in manufacturing is to create a process that is economical, fast, repeatable, and that enables the desired design freedom in both geometric complexity and choice of materials. Digital Fabrication and, in particular, Additive Manufacturing (AM) has emerged as a potent alternative to conventional manufacturing and is considered by many the holy grail. Despite this hype, however, AM still lacks behind the expectations and is often not able to handle the required complexity, which significantly limits progress in major research fields.
In my talk, I will address both the digital design of novel materials and structures with outstanding properties, and the fabrication thereof. First, I will present recent research that shows how the mutual exclusivity between strength and toughness can be overcome in mechanical metamaterials and how we can integrate (multi-)functionality, such as actuation and sensing, on a materials-level. Second, I will demonstrate AM-based solutions specifically tailored to these design paradigms that cannot be fabricated in any other way. Third, I will address the general limitations of AM and show how they can be (partially) overcome, with the ultimate goal of solving the grand challenge. Finally, I will outline potential next steps and provide a perspective on how the proposed approaches can dictate the future direction of the whole field.
Jochen Mueller is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, where he has joint appointments with Katia Bertoldi and Jennifer Lewis. Jochen’s research focuses on the computational design and fabrication of (mechanical) metamaterials and structures with outstanding physical properties and new functionalities. Examples include the development of innovative 3D printing processes, multiscale lattice materials, and novel design optimization algorithms. Jochen’s work has been published in journals like Advanced Materials, Nature, and PNAS, and covered by major media outlets, such as the Boston Globe and NBC.
Prior to joining Harvard University, Jochen obtained a doctorate with Kristina Shea from the Engineering Design and Computing (EDAC) group at ETH Zurich and was awarded the ETH medal for outstanding dissertations. Jochen graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree with distinction from Albstadt-Sigmaringen University and Imperial College London, respectively, both in Mechanical Engineering.