From aircrafts to boats, honeycombs find themselves in the mix of core materials. It has actually become one of the most popular structural cores in the composites industry. But, have you ever wondered where it came from?
The answer: nature. We got this idea from the mathematical genius of the honey bee!
A honeycomb is an array of hexagonal tubes that fit together perfectly. The bee builds the honeycomb to store its honey and this design allows it to withstand the greatest amount of weight while using the least amount of material.
The honeycomb structure is also known for its high compression and shear strength properties, making it a very light and strong material. It’s no wonder it is so highly sought after for use in high performance applications.
Many man-made honeycomb cores exist on the market, but nature actually makes its own honeycomb core: balsa wood. Balsa wood is composed of a micro-honeycomb structure that acts just like the honeycomb structures discussed above. It possess high compression and shear strength properties making it a major player in the core industry.
Several man-made honeycomb cores have tried to replace balsa wood core, but without luck. Balsa wood is a renewable resource, is cost effective, and with such high mechanical properties, it’s likely that this eco-friendly material will continue to be used as a core for a long time to come.
Structures in nature have found miraculous ways to harness efficiency, and honeycombs are no exception. So when looking for ways to innovate materials, perhaps we need not look further than right outside our windows.