Analysis of the mechanical response of biomimetic materials with highly oriented microstructures through 3D printing, mechanical testing and modeling
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Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials

Volume 48, August 2015, Pages 70–85

Enrique Escobar de Obaldiaa,Chanhue Jeonga,Lessa Kay Grunenfelderb,David Kisailusb, c,Pablo Zavattieria,
a Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
b Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
c Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
Many biomineralized organisms have evolved highly oriented nanostructures to perform specific functions. One key example is the abrasion-resistant rod-like microstructure found in the radular teeth of Chitons (Cryptochiton stelleri), a large mollusk. The teeth consist of a soft core and a hard shell that is abrasion resistant under extreme mechanical loads with which they are subjected during the scraping process. Such remarkable mechanical properties are achieved through a hierarchical arrangement of nanostructured magnetite rods surrounded with α-chitin. We present a combined biomimetic approach in which designs were analyzed with additive manufacturing, experiments, analytical and computational models to gain insights into the abrasion resistance and toughness of rod-like microstructures. Staggered configurations of hard hexagonal rods surrounded by thin weak interfacial material were printed, and mechanically characterized with a cube-corner indenter. Experimental results demonstrate a higher contact resistance and stiffness for the staggered alignments compared to randomly distributed fibrous materials. Moreover, we reveal an optimal rod aspect ratio that lead to an increase in the site-specific properties measured by indentation. Anisotropy has a significant effect (up to 50%) on the Young’s modulus in directions parallel and perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the rods, and 30% on hardness and fracture toughness. Optical microscopy suggests that energy is dissipated in the form of median cracks when the load is parallel to the rods and lateral cracks when the load is perpendicular to the rods. Computational models suggest that inelastic deformation of the rods at early stages of indentation can vary the resistance to penetration. As such, we found that the mechanical behavior of the system is influenced by interfacial shear strain which influences the lateral load transfer and therefore the spread of damage. This new methodology can help to elucidate the evolutionary designs of biomineralized microstructures and understand the tolerance to fracture and damage of chiton radular teeth.
Biomimetic;Composites;3D printing;Indentation;Modeling
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