Design framework for mechanically tunable soft biomaterial composites enhanced by modified horseshoe lattice structures†
Soft biomaterials have a wide range of applications in many areas. However, one material can only cover a specific range of mechanical performance such as the elastic modulus and stretchability. In order to improve the mechanical performance of soft biomaterials, lattice structures are embedded to reinforce the biomaterials. In this paper, rectangular and triangular lattice structures formed by modified horseshoe microstructures are used because their mechanical properties are tunable and can be tailored precisely to match the desired properties by adjusting four geometrical parameters, the length L, radius R, width w and arc angle θ0. A theoretical design framework for the modified horseshoe lattice structures is developed to predict the dependence of the mechanical behaviors on geometrical parameters. Both experiments and finite element simulations on lattice structures are conducted to validate the theoretical models. Results show that a wide range of design space for the elastic modulus (a few kPa to hundreds of MPa), stretchability (strain up to 180%) and Poisson ratio (ranging from −0.5 to 1.2) can be achieved. Experiments on lattice–hydrogel composites are also conducted to verify the reinforcement effect of lattice structures on the hydrogel. This work provides a theoretical method to predict the mechanical behaviors of the lattice structures and aid the rational design of reinforced biomaterials, which has applications in tissue engineering, drug delivery and intraocular lenses.