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Ultrastiff Materials Are Light as a Feather

Ultrastiff Materials Are Light as a Feather

They may look flimsy, but the materials printed with 3-D printing technology are one-of-a-kind, light-weight and super-strong.

Materials engineers at LLNL have created a material with a special 3-D printer that mixes hard metal, tough ceramics and flexible plastics.

“It can hold more than 100,000-times its own weight. In fact, even more than that,” said Chris Spadaccini, a materials engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

“One of the benefits of this methodology is the ability to work with a wide range of materials,” said Josh Kuntz, a materials engineer at LLNL.

“These are things that are generally not available in 3-D printing today,” Spadaccini commented.

The engineers create the materials with a sophisticated technology that creates 3-D parts layer by layer.

“Wherever it gets hit by light, it hardens and forms a layer,” Spadaccini explained.

The materials are so strong that they can remain stiff almost indefinitely and can hold up to at least 160,000 times their own weight.

“The connectivity is so high that the structure does not have an extra degree of freedom to bend under load,” said Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, a materials engineer at LLNL.

The materials could someday be used in products that require strong but lightweight parts such as automobiles, space vehicles and airplanes.

Top Image: Lawrence Livermore Engineer Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng studies a macroscale version of the unit cell, which constitutes the ultralight, ultrastiff material. Image courtesy of Julie Russell/LLNL.

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