Modeling and design of heterogeneous hierarchical bioinspired spider web structures using generative deep learning and additive manufacturing

by   Wei Lu, et al.

Spider webs are incredible biological structures, comprising thin but strong silk filament and arranged into complex hierarchical architectures with striking mechanical properties (e.g., lightweight but high strength, achieving diverse mechanical responses). While simple 2D orb webs can easily be mimicked, the modeling and synthesis of 3D-based web structures remain challenging, partly due to the rich set of design features. Here we provide a detailed analysis of the heterogenous graph structures of spider webs, and use deep learning as a way to model and then synthesize artificial, bio-inspired 3D web structures. The generative AI models are conditioned based on key geometric parameters (including average edge length, number of nodes, average node degree, and others). To identify graph construction principles, we use inductive representation sampling of large experimentally determined spider web graphs, to yield a dataset that is used to train three conditional generative models: 1) An analog diffusion model inspired by nonequilibrium thermodynamics, with sparse neighbor representation, 2) a discrete diffusion model with full neighbor representation, and 3) an autoregressive transformer architecture with full neighbor representation. All three models are scalable, produce complex, de novo bio-inspired spider web mimics, and successfully construct graphs that meet the design objectives. We further propose algorithm that assembles web samples produced by the generative models into larger-scale structures based on a series of geometric design targets, including helical and parametric shapes, mimicking, and extending natural design principles towards integration with diverging engineering objectives. Several webs are manufactured using 3D printing and tested to assess mechanical properties.


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