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

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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  • 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.
  • 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 [] 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.

  • Shear strength (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:02AM (#47292635)

    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' puts shear stress on the cable material as it squeezes the cable (requiring an armored surfacing which NOW has to exist on that long length ....more weight).

    Strengthen that high tensile material itself ? Like the epoxy matrix around graphite fiber -- how much weight is that going to be that will greatly increase the weight of the entire cable (it adds little to the tensile up down strength)?? Thats now compression strength built up across the cable diameter, (actually across it to the opposite side) and intermeshed with the axial oriented cable tension element so it wont slip.

    LOTS more weight to the whole thing (matrix might have to be many times the density/total weight of the linear element) which the tensile material will NOW have to hold all the weight of.

    Lets not forget things like thermal stress on the materials, countermeasures against corrosion of all kinds, and added surge margins to compensate for irregular stress conditions

    Another fun thing is because the weight hanging/pulling upwards varies at different points along the cable the strength required can vary, thus its thickness may also (to cut down its required weight somewhat)

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