The utilization of generative design and forms of additive manufacturing has made latticed internal structures a possibility. With these substructures comes the ability for engineers to create parts that are lighter weight, but maintain the same part strength – or better. The capabilities of implementing this technology have brought change to the industry. With that said, what areas of engineering and mechanical design could stand to benefit the most from generative internal lattice structures?
Utilization of generative lattice design has expanded in large part thanks to the adoption of the technology in medical applications. From a design perspective, complex organic lattice substructures give the designer the ability to create a strong yet organic part within the bounds of tight physical constraints, according to GrabCAD. The idea of organic latticing stems back to the way our bones are designed. When we incorporate enclosed or open generative latticing into medical implants, the patient not only receives a strong and durable part, but their body gains an organic ground off of which new growth can occur. Think of lightweight hip joins, printed bone replacements, etc. Implementing organic lattice design into biomedical engineering is a key driver of innovation in that field.
Generative latticing is being explored as an important aspect of the future of automotive design as well. As an industry, automotive design requires the overarching constraint of safety and crash management internal to designs. Cars have improved over the years with crumple zones, and now, most every new car has a 5-star safety rating. Even with this drastic improvement, the ability that internal generative latticing brings to the flowing nature of car design is significant, according to ASME. Combining generative latticing would allow strength to be brought exactly to where a car design needed it and taken from unnecessary places. Rather than being limited by material and manufacturing restrictions, car safety and design can be exactly what they need to be – without wasted space, weight, or material.
Building construction is an industry that was isolated from groundbreaking innovation. Tools used to construct projects have generally been the same for hundreds of years. 3D printing is changing that, and the introduction of generative latticing into civil engineering design could shift how we construct. Emerging technologies are proving that additively manufacturing buildings is a very real possibility. With this comes the ability to move beyond the “building block” parts seen at the store and construct with flow. The forces buildings need to withstand, such as wind, snow, seismic, etc. are complex in nature. Why not couple the complex algorithms that solve for these forces with larger scale latticing capabilities? Generative latticing could be what keeps us safe from earthquakes in the future, without any added cost.
As you are probably starting to see, lattice structures, often organic in nature, are allowing innovation from the minuscule all the way up to the gargantuan. A design method truly inspired by nature has the capability to revolutionize our engineering design capabilities. Even now, this technology is to the point that it is practically implementable to the modern engineer. If you want to be on the leading edge of innovation, now is the time to get involved with shape generation and generative latticing technologies.
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