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3D-Printed Material Can Carry 160,000 Times Its Own Weight 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the aerogel-eat-your-heart-out dept.
rtoz writes: Researchers have found a new material design based on the use of microlattices with nanoscale features, combining great stiffness and strength with ultralow density. The actual production of such materials is made possible by a high-precision 3-D printing process called projection microstereolithography. Normally, stiffness and strength declines with the density of any material; that's why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely. But using the right mathematically determined structures to distribute and direct the loads, the lighter structure can maintain its strength. This newly invented material is among the lightest in the world. It can easily withstand a load of more than 160,000 times its own weight.

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3D-Printed Material Can Carry 160,000 Times Its Own Weight

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  • Could they make a thread of the stuff?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can someone 3d print me a prosthetic?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You want someone to print you a 3D brain?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nah, what would I want one of those for?

  • Would this material make one possible?

    • Re:Space Elevator? (Score:5, Informative)

      by meerling (1487879) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:02AM (#47291921)
      No, not really.
      It's got a great strength to weight ratio, but it might be better to say they reduced the effective weight while retaining most of the strength of the material.
      The stuff needed for the cable of a tethered satellite needs a lot more than just a great weight to strength ratio, it needs a certain level of strength and resilience.

      Look at it this way, if you had a steel component that weighed 1,000lbs and could hold up 20,000lbs and you replaced it with this type of similar to aerogel lattice type steel component, you are looking at a tiny weight (probably) less than 3 lbs, and it could still hold up around 20,000lbs. Of course, if the project needed a component that size that was able to hold up 50,000lbs, neither one would be feasible.
      Some people might suggest that you could just make it bigger, but that's often not a feasible idea, even if it is lighter than the usual materials. For one example is why skyscrapers are not made of brick. It doesn't matter how wide your walls of brick would be, after a certain point, the weight of the bricks would crush the lower ones, and then the whole building collapses. The steel reinforced concrete we use can sustain much larger loads, and so is used for tall and heavy projects instead of bricks. Of course tethered satellite has to withstand much greater stresses, whether it's crushing down, pulling up, or swaying to the side. That's why super light but otherwise more conventional materials won't work.
      • Some people might suggest that you could just make it bigger, but that's often not a feasible idea, even if it is lighter than the usual materials. For one example is why skyscrapers are not made of brick. It doesn't matter how wide your walls of brick would be, after a certain point, the weight of the bricks would crush the lower ones, and then the whole building collapses. The steel reinforced concrete we use can sustain much larger loads, and so is used for tall and heavy projects instead of bricks. Of c

    • Re:Space Elevator? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:05AM (#47292463)

      Would this material make one possible?

      No.
      A space elevator cable needs to have insanely high Tensile strength combined with the ability to not deform/stretch.
      It's described as similar to an arogel [wikipedia.org] with the strength of rubber. With that description it sounds like its
      Tesile strength [wikipedia.org] is terrible while its compressive strength [wikipedia.org] is what's great... which would make it a bad match for a space elevator cable. Though, what's interesting here is the process... they could use it to design other materials with different geometries and different properties I'd think.

      • by dhj (110274) *

        In additon to tensile strength it would also have to have very high shear strength. From TFA this (and most 3D printed strength improvements) is an improvement in compressive strength. The only strength component not relevant to a space elevator cable.

  • The working material is ants.

  • by Aviation Pete (252403) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:49AM (#47292027)
    for those who know 3D printing well. The new aspect is the precision of the printer, which allows to make those structures on a micro scale, but the basic technique has been used for over a decade to save material in big-volume articles.

    Fruth Innovative Technologien [fit-production.de] has developed an algorithm to fill large volumes with such a scaffolding quickly. This speeds up building time and saves on the precious sinter powder, and yes, the scaffolding is very strong for its weight. They do this for more than a decade now. And now a MIT professor comes up with the same idea, and it is presented as a breakthrough. MIT marketing at work.

    • by hamjudo (64140)
      The Fine article compares this type of lattice structure to the structure of the Eiffel Tower. They didn't claim anything more than being able to do it at a very fine scale, and to do it sufficiently precisely to get something that can support 160,000 times its one weight. They are just claiming refinements on centuries of engineering advances. The strength of well engineered 3D printed structures is still impressive. Even some printers that hobbyists can afford can beat out solid materials. It's only gett
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Plenty of materials have great strength in one way but virtually lone in another.

    So at best, this material use is limited ways, and thus requires combination with other materials which lose most of that big sounding number in any practical use.

  • Until they can 3D print microlattices made of graphene it's a no go.
  • The news is that they are printing with light. This means smaller processors. more data on a DVD and many more things. Not 'just' material that can carry 160.000 times its own weight.

    • Printing with light, AKA Stereolithography [wikipedia.org] has been around for a long time. The news here is that they're printing feature sizes that are smaller than the wavelength of the light they are using. This involves using metamaterials with a negative index of refraction (among other things)

  • Shear strength (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Space elevator cable first needs very high tensile strength just to hold it own weight (thats 22000 mile PLUS the counterweight portion extending outwards to counter the downward pull (some designs make that another duplicate cable going out that much further 22000 more miles).

    Anyway, for the thing to work as a elevator the mechanism that goes up and down has to grip the cable and generate sufficient friction to move against gravity and then upwards (and to brake on the way down). That 'gripping' put

  • Oboy. Do we finally have something that can make a big sphere strong enough and light enough that when pumped to a vacuum it will work as a lifting body?

    Not to mention, strong enough to make a deep sea diving bell strong enough that it won't crush?

    Same principle. Oh please ...

  • OP says:

    Normally, stiffness and strength declines with the density of any material; that's why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely.

    I can see what was meant, but OP actually got this backward. It should be "Normally, stiffness and strength increases with density; that's why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely."

  • It's great that a comparison is made to the strength of the Eiffel Tower, but the reality is that we're talking about MICROstereolithorgraphy. If it printed a layer one micron in thickness, each layer needing an hour of production time, that's on the order of one century per inch.

    This will be useful only where small parts are to be made that can withstand large forces: a miniature gyro perhaps rotating at insane speeds...

  • but i still weigh more than a gram

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