Topology optimization and 3D printing of multimaterial magnetic actuators and displays

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Science Advances  12 Jul 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 7, eaaw1160
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1160


Upcoming actuation systems will be required to perform multiple tightly coupled functions analogous to their natural counterparts; e.g., the ability to control displacements and high-resolution appearance simultaneously is necessary for mimicking the camouflage seen in cuttlefish. Creating integrated actuation systems is challenging owing to the combined complexity of generating high-dimensional designs and developing multifunctional materials and their associated fabrication processes. Here, we present a complete toolkit consisting of multiobjective topology optimization (for design synthesis) and multimaterial drop-on-demand three-dimensional printing for fabricating complex actuators (>106 design dimensions). The actuators consist of soft and rigid polymers and a magnetic nanoparticle/polymer composite that responds to a magnetic field. The topology optimizer assigns materials for individual voxels (volume elements) while simultaneously optimizing for physical deflection and high-resolution appearance. Unifying a topology optimization-based design strategy with a multimaterial fabrication process enables the creation of complex actuators and provides a promising route toward automated, goal-driven fabrication.

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