Although inspired by nature, the polymer microarchitecture produced by a team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) outperforms its natural counterparts in terms of strength/density ratio. The underlying structure was produced using a process of 3D laser lithography or polymer printing and hardening.
A number of structures were tested, including triangular, hexagonal and honeycomb. These were then coated by gas deposition to provide extra strength, with coatings of a ceramic material and alumina both tested. The polymer structure measured roughly 50 µm long, wide, and high, while various coating thicknesses were tested ranging from 10 nm to 200 nm.