From human organs to engineering tools that are used in aerospace and automotive sectors, 3D printing promises to open up novel and significant manufacturing methods. These methods and other potential benefits have led to accelerated investment in the validation of current 3D printing technologies and the rapid exploration of new concepts, such as lightweight structural components and multifunctional tissue scaffolds. The rapid growth and disruptive potential of 3D printing demand further research that addresses the fundamental principles of 3D printing and likewise enables engineers to realize its capabilities. We can use these capabilities to develop material systems that obtain some of their properties via their structural organization rather than their intrinsic constituents. I am interested in applying the fundamentals of engineering mechanics to investigate novel material systems (e.g., nature-inspired and mathematical systems) with qualitatively different mechanical behaviors but using the same material composition. If structural patterns with different length scales are combined in a hierarchical manner, mixed-mode mechanical responses, such as bending–stretching, are possible. Multiscale metamaterials with properties heretofore unseen in engineered materials can be created by the 3D printing of flexible inks.
Advances in 3D printing and additive manufacturing have provided research opportunities that many researchers will explore in the coming years. Considering the widespread availability of advanced 3D printing techniques, the coming period is expected to be exciting for research on smart structures and metamaterials. The combinatorial approaches for merging 3D printing technologies with engineering mechanics will improve various tissue engineering applications from the perspective of metamaterials. In the context of bioengineering, these approaches allow the development of highly organized scaffolds that can add various capacities to biomimetic materials and point-of-care diagnostic systems. I believe my research will address novel directions of manufacturing engineering by working with government agencies and collaborators across various fields. Beyond the scientific impact of this work, I am trying to achieve a greater understanding of the process of interdisciplinary collaborations, which are necessary to address society’s problems.