About this Research Topic
Composite materials, i.e. those materials consisting of two or more materials combined on the macroscopic scale, are advantageous for numerous applications, usually exhibiting the best qualities of their individual constituents and often the acquisition of new qualities not possessed by either constituent independently. These properties include strength, stiffness, corrosion resistance, fatigue life, wear resistance, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, and permeability, as well as attractiveness, temperature-dependent behavior, thermal insulation, acoustical insulation, etc. Obviously, not all of these properties are improved at the same time, as any particular application usually requires a selective focus on a specific subset; however, an increasing demand for multifunctional composites exists today.
The utilization of additive-manufacturing practices such as 3D-printing technologies provide exciting new opportunities to incorporate multiple materials into the production of a single component. Possibly more exciting is the creation of a complicated device with multiple functionalized components in a single build, such as soft robotics. The incorporation of multiple components can exist in a number of forms from printing with multiple nozzles in fused-filament fabrication (FFF) to controlling the size, shape, orientation, and distribution of the particulate phase in stereolithography. Further advancements, such as the use of 3D inkjet printing, could allow spatially dependent (voxel-by-voxel) orientation of the filler particles.
Composite materials are often both heterogeneous and anisotropic. Together, detailed studies of the micromechanics (microscopic interactions) and the macromechanics (averaged apparent properties) allow the tailoring of a composite material to meet a particular structural requirement. Naturally, these ideas extend beyond mechanical properties to susceptibility, permeability, etc. The engineering of advanced composites, in which the size, shape, orientation, and distribution of the particulate phase and/or the modulus, wettability, and adhesion of multiple bulk materials are strictly controlled, has increasingly shown promise for the creation of new metamaterials that can be engineered with superior functional properties.
This Research Topic of Frontiers In Mechanical Engineering is focused on the fundamental physics associated with novel methods to engineer a number of advanced materials at the sub-micron length scale through the addition of fillers and/or the interfaces associated with multiple components.
Keywords: Composite materials, additive manufacturing, 3D printing, functionalized materials, digital manufacturing
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