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Lightweight Construction

Scientists generate schwarzite in 3D printing

Researchers at Rice University have managed to produce, for the first time ever, the extremely lightweight schwarzite out of polymer with a 3D printer.

03 Dec. 2017
Marie-Lucine Tapyuli
Wiley Verlag
Scientists generate schwarzite in 3D printing (picture: WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA)

Schwarzites are named after the German mathematician Hermann Schwarz , who theoretically predicted the existence of such shapes around the year 1880. The Ajayan Research Group headed by Prof. Dr. Pulickel Ajayan at Rice University in Houston managed to use molecular dynamics simulations to analyze the structure of schwarzites and to print out these simulations in the shape of a polymer cube. The findings of these studies ("Multiscale Geometric Design Principles Applied to 3D Printed Schwarzites") have been published in the Advanced Materials journal .

Schwarzites are very complex, porous structures. They are characterized by their minimal surface area, which makes them extremely light. They also have unusual deformation properties, deforming very slowly and layer by layer. The effect is similar to the properties of mussel shells, which when placed under pressure initially bend. If one were to construct a building made of schwarzites, rather than immediately collapsing after being hit by a falling load, such as a heavy structural component, it would deform slowly enough to give the occupants time to evacuate safely.