Design of Three-Dimensional, Triply Periodic Unit Cell Scaffold Structures for Additive Manufacturing

Mazher Iqbal Mohammed* (Corresponding Author), Ian Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Highly organized, porous architectures leverage the true potential of additive manufacturing (AM) as they can simply not be manufactured by any other means. However, their mainstream usage is being hindered by the traditional methodologies of design which are heavily mathematically orientated and do not allow ease of controlling geometrical attributes. In this study, we aim to address these limitations through a more design-driven approach and demonstrate how complex mathematical surfaces, such as triply periodic structures, can be used to generate unit cells and be applied to design scaffold structures in both regular and irregular volumes in addition to hybrid formats. We examine the conversion of several triply periodic mathematical surfaces into unit cell structures and use these to design scaffolds, which are subsequently manufactured using fused filament fabrication (FFF) additive manufacturing. We present techniques to convert these functions from a two-dimensional surface to three-dimensional (3D) unit cell, fine tune the porosity and surface area, and examine the nuances behind conversion into a scaffold structure suitable for 3D printing. It was found that there are constraints in the final size of unit cell that can be suitably translated through a wider structure while still allowing for repeatable printing, which ultimately restricts the attainable porosities and smallest printed feature size. We found this limit to be approximately three times the stated precision of the 3D printer used this study. Ultimately, this work provides guidance to designers/engineers creating porous structures, and findings could be useful in applications such as tissue engineering and product light-weighting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number071701
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of mechanical design
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • FFF
  • scaffold
  • Schwarz
  • triply periodic
  • additive manufacturing


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