Bioinspired multilayered cellular composites with enhanced energy absorption and shape recovery

Huan Jiang, Louise Le Barbenchon, Brett A Bednarcyk, Fabrizio Scarpa, Yanyu Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Inspired by the multiscale configuration of the microstructure of cork, the paper describes the design, 3D printing, and evaluation of a new type of multilayered cellular composite (MCC) structure composed of hard brittle and soft flexible phases. The mechanical behavior of 3D printed MCC structures have been investigated both experimentally and numerically. The experiments show that the MCC structure absorbs four times the amount of energy of a conventional cellular configuration under compressive strains up to 70%. Finite element simulations and 2D digital image correlation (DIC) also show that the multilayered architecture provides a more uniform strain distribution and higher stress transfer efficiency, with a resulting progressive failure mode rather than a catastrophic one. Cyclic loading tests demonstrate that the MCC structure also possesses exceptional shape recoverability under compressive deformations up to 40%. These remarkable performance characteristics result from synergies between the properties of the two constituent materials and the chosen multilayered cellular microstructure. The soft phase, in particular, plays a pivotal role in absorbing elastic energy during loading and then releasing the stored energy while unloading. The volume fraction of the soft phase is also essential to control energy absorption and the transition of failure modes. The deformation mechanisms demonstrated here are robust and applicable to other architected cellular materials across multiple length scales and suggest new ways to design lightweight and high-resilience structural materials.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101430
Number of pages10
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
Early online date6 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • bioinspired composites
  • cellular structures
  • 3D printing
  • energy absorption
  • shape recovery


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