J. Bauer, A. Schroer, R. Schwaiger, I. Tesari, C. Lange, L. Valdevit, O. Kraft
Extreme Mechanics Letters 3 (2015) 105-112
Publication year: 2015


The search for light yet strong materials recently benefited from novel high resolution 3D-printing technologies, which allow for fabricating lightweight porous materials with optimally designed micro-topologies. Architectural design improves mechanical properties significantly compared to stochastic porosity, as in foams. Miniaturization of the architectures offers to exploit material strengthening size-effects occurring at the nanoscale. However, these effects and their interaction with structural behavior are not yet well understood. We present tensile experiments of nanoscale alumina–polymer composite bars and cellular microarchitectures, applying 3D-printed push-to-pull mechanisms. The strength of alumina is found to strongly increase as the material thickness decreases. Below 50 nm thickness a plateau at about 5.5 GPa is reached, which is in the range of the theoretical strength. The characteristic low tensile strength of ceramics and its high variability seem not to hold at the nanoscale. Thus, when designed and fabricated appropriately, microarchitectures will facilitate carrying these size-effects beyond scales in future, allowing the use of ceramic materials far beyond what is possible to date.