A gyroid is an infinitely connected triply periodic minimal surface discovered by physicist and computer scientist Alan H. Schoen in 1970 while he was working at NASA. According to Wikipedia, the term “gyroid” stems from the impression in the gyroid’s structure that each continuous channel in the array, along different principal crystallographic axes, has connections to additional intersecting channels, which “gyrate” along the channel length.
What is most interesting about gyroid structures perhaps, is that more scientists are now discovering that it has always existed in nature! Here are some examples:
- The Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences have announced that the beautiful iridescent colours in butterfly wings are caused by gyroids made of chitin and air.
- In biology, the surface of mitochondria, which are membranes inside biological cell components, seem to have gyroid surfaces.
- Highly viscous liquids such as ketchup and glue exhibit gyroid spaces in molecular tension between the water-attracting and fat-attracting molecules
Exceptional strength properties at low densities
While gyroids equal the strength of a normal part, it is also incredibly lightweight as less material is needed with its interconnecting structures. The most apparent physical trait of gyroids are its wavy lines which deform across layers so that the waves end up alternating between two axes. This gives it a higher level of sheer strength compared to other more basic infill shapes such as cubic, triangle or rectilinear.
After the print is completed, it is also easy to backfill the empty spaces within the gyroid with lighter or cheaper material (such as epoxy), giving it lots of versality and flexibility to work with. Not forgetting that gyroids also look fascinating, our design team has started to adopt this structure for advaced manufacturing uses.
So, how does Gyroid really compare to other 3D printing lattice structures?
An experiment* was recently done to compare gyroid structures with conventionally used honeycomb and rectilinear structures in 3D printing, and the benefits are obvious. With similar strength to honeycombing, gyroid uses less material or filament making it even more lightweight, achieving less than 80% weight compared to that of honeycomb fill. This also saves time in printing since less material is required. Compared to rectilinear structure which is considered extremely fragile compared to gyroid and 3d honeycombing, we have a clear winner!