Microscopic 3D-printed structures could replace everyday construction materials.
Tougher than some forms of steel and lighter than water, a new material exceeds the strength-to-weight ratio of many other construction materials.
Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany used an advanced Nanoscribe 3D printer to construct tiny aluminium oxide-coated polymer structures, each 40 microns tall, or about the diameter of a human hair. When compressed and 3D-printed, they can withstand up to 2 800 bar of pressure, compared with stainless steels’ 2 100 bar.
The material derives its Superman-like quality from its architecture: a honeycomb lattice inspired by the porous cellular structures that make wood and bone strong despite their light weight. If the researchers can find a way to scale up the production in the 3D printing process, the microengineered material could prove useful in aeroplanes, spacecraft, and any other application where strength is important, but weight is costly.
|Aluminium Oxide Cubes||Titanium Alloy||Stainless Steel||Concrete||Styrofoam|
|Strength:||High (2 800 bar)||High (9 700 bar)||High (2 100 bar)||High (207 bar)||Low (1,5 bar)|
|Density:||Low (811 kg/m3)||High (4 444 kg/m3)||High (8 005 kg/m3)||High (2 400 kg/m3)||Low (120 kg/m3)|
– Sarah Fecht