Biomimetic composites are usually made by combining hard and soft phases using, for example, multi-material additive manufacturing (AM). Like other fabrication methods, AM techniques are limited by the resolution of the device, hence, setting a minimum length scale. The effects of this length scale on the performance of hard-soft composites are not well understood. Here, we studied how this length scale affects the fracture toughness behavior of single-edge notched specimens made using random, semi-random, and ordered arrangements of the hard and soft phases with five different ratios of hard to soft phases. Increase in the length scale (40 to 960 μm) was found to cause a four-fold drop in the fracture toughness. The effects of the length scale were also modulated by the arrangement and volumetric ratio of both phases. A decreased size of the crack tip plastic zone, a crack path going through the soft phase, and highly strained areas far from the crack tip were the main mechanisms explaining the drop of the fracture toughness with the length scale.
- OA-Fund TU Delft