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The structure of bones is utterly beneficial to humans. While supporting our body it gives protection against significantly high force and pressure. It is also incredibly light (high strength to weight ratio). This is exactly the kind of material that scientists and engineers look for to serve their higher goals like design rockets or armour. So naturally a scientist was bound to look to bones for inspiration sooner or later.
Dr Jens Bauer from the Karlsruhe Institute For Technology in Germany was tired of looking for already high strength to weight ratio materials and decided to use a carbon polymer composite and structure it himself. Artificially structured materials already exist like styrofoam which is closed cell extruded polystyrene. Dr. Bauer used a laser to cure – a process used in chemistry to strengthen and harden materials – the polymer and structure it the way bones are.
A number of different patterns were tried until one that yielded the highest strength to weight ratio was created.
This design will soon be produced by 3D printers that work at the micron level. Current 3D printers are only accurate to the 100 micron level and cannot reach a level of precision to produce a material with a fundamentally altered structure.
Alas the process is far from refined and the product far from perfect. All of the patterns tried either buckled or fractured when pressure was applied. It is only natural though that first attempts are met with failure. Thomas Edison failed innumerable times to get his bulb to work and commented that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. We still have a long way to go.