SelfCAD is an online CAD and 3D design software

It uses latest JavaScript features. Please pick a newer browser. Examples are listen below.

Explore the 3D printing Materials that Mimic Nature!

 |  Michael Gorman

Biomimicry and 3D Printing

There is a new study done showing that the 3D printing process when modified, can provide a very versatile means to the production of multiple colors from one ink. Many of the vibrant colors in nature originated from structural coloration, which is a nanoscale phenomenon. When there is a reflection of light rays off these structures that are placed periodically and located in the skins and wings of individual animals or inside some minerals, they tend to interfere constructively with each other to amplify specific wavelengths and also suppress some different wavelengths. 


When these structures are small enough and well ordered, they are capable of producing a vivid outburst of color even though they are one thousand times smaller than the hair of a human. 


In a statement by Ying Diao, the study leader, who is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a contributor at essay writing reviews, reproducing these vibrant colors is a big challenge.


To form the thin ordered layer that provides the primary colors that we often see in nature, we need precise control of processing and polymer synthesis. 


According to this study, carefully tuning the assembly process for bottlebrush-shaped polymers that are structured uniquely during the 3D printing can make it possible to carry out the creation of photonic crystals. A tunable layer thickness will be reflecting the visible light spectrum from just one ink. 


This ink has branched polymers that have double bonded segments that are chemically distinct. The researchers of this study dissolved this substance into a solution that mixes the polymer chains before printing. Once they finish 3D printing, and the solution starts to dry up, the components begin to separate or disconnect at a microscopic scale, forming the nanoscale layers exhibiting different physical properties dependent on the assembly speed. 


The polymer synthesis has one big challenge: to combine the precision required for the assembly of nanoscale with the production of all materials that are important to carry out the 3D printing process on a large scale, says Damien Guironnet in the ScienceDaily publication.


While carrying out this study in the lab, the researchers used a consumer 3D printer modified to fine-tune the fastness of the printing nozzle’s movement across a surface that is controlled by temperature. 


The ability to control the temperature and speed of ink deposition allowed them to control the assembly speed and thickness of the nanoscale’s internal layer. A standard 3D printer would not be able to do this, according to Bijal Patel, the lead author of the study and a graduate student. 

According to the researchers, the color spectrum they were able to achieve using this method is limited. But they are still working to ensure that they improve by trying to learn more about the kinetics behind the formation of the multiple layers in this process. 


Additionally, as a team, they are also working on expanding this process and giving it an industrial relevance because the current method they used is not suitable to complete large volume printing. In a statement by Professor Ying Diao, they work with professor Damien Guiroonnet, Simon Rogers group, and Charles Sing to develop printing processes and polymers. These materials can be controlled more efficiently and bring us closer to producing the vibrant colors which nature provides. 


This study highlights the possibility of what researchers can achieve as they start to move past and stop focusing on 3D printing as another way just to put down some bulky materials with exciting shapes. With this study, they can directly change the material’s physical properties and unlock some new behavior at the point of printing. 



The study of materials that mimic nature revolves around Biomimicry. It might sound a little strange, but it is relatively simple to understand. In simpler and clearer terms, it is the imitation of nature. It is how we can learn from the surroundings and incorporate the designs, patterns, and solutions of life into our designs. 


This study links Biomimicry to 3D printing, and we now know that it can help us in the development of newer materials, which opens us up to more new production possibilities. Biomimicry can also help us get answers to our design optimizations while also inspiring engineers with unique ideas that they can use in additive manufacturing. 


Explaining Biomimicry

For many centuries now, people have received inspiration from nature for different things. Nature can provide the perfect solution to any problem and create structures that are ideal for building materials. Some of these are most times, the strongest that we have come across, such as graphene. 


While we already get plenty from nature, including food, fruits, fresh veggies, etc. That is not all we can take from the environment. There's so much more that we can learn. For instance, nature developed different structures to aid the growth of fragile flowers and sturdy trees, the patterned fur on a Tiger, and a chameleon’s ability to camouflage by changing colors. All of these are things that we can observe and learn from nature and apply them for our benefits. This learning process is what's called Biomimicry. 


Biomimicry and 3D Printing


content image

    3d printing now mimics nature. image source: Inhabitat


Biomimicry has to do with creating sustainable products by mimicking nature. The problem with this is creating those products. Traditional manufacturing processes face many restrictions. Fortunately, 3D printing technology can solve this problem. The combination of 3D printing and mimicry have numerous unending opportunities. 


In principle, 3D printing is a process that replicates nature in the manufacturing of things. Like with the environment, creatures grow in bits and small increments into large and complete objects. 3D printing technology also works in the same way. 


The similarity between 3D printing and Biomimicry is striking, and that is one of the reasons why they are such a perfect match. Complex natural objects can now be manufactured and printed with various 3D printing techniques. And this has the potential to affect the entire world significantly. 


Biomimicry corroborates 3D printing very beautifully. Biomimicry provides us with ultra-light and super-strong materials like graphene (10x more durable than steel).  This nature learning also allows us to use patterns in nature, such as the scale of a fish and the grass structure on a cellular level, to enhance protection.  


content image

A combination of biomimicry and 3D printing makes the creation of exciting designs. image source: Biomimicryidaho


Biomimicry helps our study of nature and the structures that have been in existence for millions of years. We now draw inspiration from these structures to develop new materials, build new cars, and fix our bodies. 


There are numerous examples of the limit of nature to the materials used. But thanks to the combination of 3D printing and Biomimicry, we have been able to overcome this. 


Some examples of the combination of 3D printing and Biomimicry are:

  • Medicine: restoring the facility by copying nature.

  • 3D printed foam ink

  • 3D printed armor

  • Changes to footwear

  • Nature-based engineering

This combination can cut across different variations and bring about massive changes. 

Do you want to learn 3D modeling? Check out our interactive tutorials.

SelfCAD tutorials

Haven't tried SelfCAD yet? Register now, and try it out for free!

Try SelfCAD

Author’s Bio:

Michael Gorman is a highly skilled freelance writer and proofreader from the UK who currently works at a college essay writing service where he produces their best essay and is one of their essay writer for you. Being interested in healthy development, he writes various blog posts and discovers new aspects of human existence every day.

Was this blog post interesting or helpful?