What is a cellular structure?
Cellular describes structures that are composed of cell units.
To a biologist, a cell is the basic structural/ functional unit of all known organisms.
A material scientist understands cellular materials to be characterised by a porous microstructure comprising of solid and void networks also known as foams.
A cell in this context is the smallest repeating unit within the structure. Cells can be closed units forming contained 3D structures or open forming a complex network of interconnected cells.
Cellular structures in biology
Cellular structures in textiles
For a textile designer, cellular fabrics are constructed to have a close and orderly distribution of hollows or holes.
Although most textiles are cellular materials by nature, the term is used to describe the introduction of voids at a scale range that is distinguishable via simple observation. Honeycomb is a type of woven structure that creates 3D cellular pocket across the surface of the fabric, the same is true of the honeycomb stitch in a knit structure.
Lace making techniques teach us how to make textiles with holes, pulled or drawn thread embroidery introduce holes into finished woven textiles while dropping stitches introduces holes in knit.
Additional embellishment techniques such as perforating, embossing, and printing can also result in 3D cellular structures or 2D textiles with regular holes.
Cellular structures aid
Consider the honeybee…
The honeybee collects pollen from plants to convert into honey and wax for hive building. Wax is an expensive material for a honeybee; a gram of wax requires 26,430 flower visits.
Rather than waste the wax by building a solid mass the bees create a honeycomb which is a closed cell structure. This is created using the least possible amount of wax, optimising storage space and creating the best structural stability.