A common aim of materials scientists and engineers is to create materials with the greatest strength and the minimum weight and minimum amount of materials (minimum cost). Honeycomb sandwich structures are often used to achieve these outcomes and are used in aerospace, automotive and sports equipment construction.
Being strong as well as light makes honeycomb materials ideal for the manufacture of crash helmets for racing car drivers, motor cyclists and even bicyclists.
A honeycomb structured material is produced using an array of hollow tubes or cells sandwiched between two solid walls. At the Institute of Frontier Materials scientists have produced and tested a sandwich structure made from two layers of carbon fibre composite separated by a honeycomb layer of Kevlar.
While the hexagonal shape of true honeycomb is usually the strongest shape. The cells could be tubular, triangular or square shaped.
This is an open-ended inquiry activity in which students can devise their own question to test; devise a method, conduct tests, collect and analyse date and report their findings. Students might test different cell sizes, different shapes, different thicknesses of the sandwich and so on.
The following documents comprise the notes and instructions for this activity. The Teachers Notes provide background information and along with the Technical Notes will enable teachers to use the activity. The Student Worksheets are provided (word docs will soon be provided so that you can adapt the activity to suit your needs) and sample answers will also be provided soon.