By: Marsha Lewis, Inside Science
(Inside Science TV) – 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.
Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California. She has won 11 National Telly Awards and nine Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news. Reprinted with permission from Inside Science, an editorially independent news product of the American Institute of Physics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing, promoting and serving the physical sciences.