Linking Mechanics to Form-Finding of Plant-Based Bio-Composite Structures


One of the biggest future challenges of our society will be to efficiently design, produce, and build sustainable infrastructure. A key ingredient to overcome this challenge could be the use of plant-based bio-composites. The basic microstructure of such materials is built up by layers of natural fibers embedded in a polymer matrix forming complex lightweight microstructures. Depending on the type, length, and orientation of fibers, the matrix material, and/or the microstructural system formed by them, the material behavior will vary. However, almost all plant-based bio-composites exhibit a highly anisotropic mechanical behavior as well as complex failure modes strongly dependent on the type of loading, which makes them difficult to describe mechanically. Thus, although they often show great mechanical performance, they are primarily used in non-structural applications.
To overcome this problem, two main challenges need to be tackled: First, these materials must be described mechanically through computational models, and second, the obtained mechanical information needs to be directly linked to computational design approaches. Meaning that the prevailing unidirectional concept, in which geometric, structural and mechanical design is carried out sequentially and separately, is especially not suitable for this class of mate-rials.