New York: Out of polymers, metals and ceramics, scientists have successfully developed and printed an ultra light material that can withstand 160,000 times its own weight.
Using what is called additive micro-manufacturing processes, the researchers developed the micro-architected metamaterials - artificial materials with properties not found in nature - that maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit mass density, even at ultra low density.
Materials with these properties have the potential to be used for developing parts and components for aircraft, automobiles and space vehicles.
"These lightweight materials can withstand a load of at least 160,000 times their own weight," said Xiaoyu "Rayne" Zheng from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the US.
The additive micro-manufacturing process involves using a micro-mirror display chip to create high-fidelity three dimensional (3D) parts - one layer at a time - from photosensitive feedstock materials.
It allowed the team to rapidly generate materials with complex 3D micro-scale geometries that are otherwise challenging or in some cases, impossible to fabricate.
"Now we can print a stiff and resilient material using a desktop machine," said Nicholas Fang, professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.
The observed high stiffness was shown to be true with multiple constituent materials such as polymers, metals and ceramics.
The findings appeared in the journal Science.