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

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the aerogel-eat-your-heart-out dept.

Science 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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Impressive (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47291831)

Could they make a thread of the stuff?

Re: Impressive (1)

Rolman (120909) | about 2 months ago | (#47291839)

To print a space elevator?

Re: Impressive (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 months ago | (#47291937)

Yeah I wonder what its support length is.

If they could expand the scale of the structure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292459)

" ... 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 ...

If it is possible to use the same math formula to greatly expand the scale of the structure (or scaffolding) into the macro-world that you and I live in, it would greatly lessen the building material needed to construct building, bridges, skyscrappers, and so on

Re: Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292047)

Psychic? I was thinking the same thing.

Re: Impressive (1)

sh00z (206503) | about 2 months ago | (#47297159)

Except TFA only mentions load in terms of compression. In a space elevator, half of the structure (the half beyond the geostationary point) would be in tension.

Great stiffness? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291833)

Can someone 3d print me a prosthetic?

Re:Great stiffness? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291841)

You want someone to print you a 3D brain?

Re:Great stiffness? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291851)

Nah, what would I want one of those for?

Space Elevator? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 months ago | (#47291843)

Would this material make one possible?

Re:Space Elevator? (5, Informative)

meerling (1487879) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re:Space Elevator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292579)

Sort of, but not really. The strength to weight ratio of this structure in tension simply doesn't exist.

Re:Space Elevator? (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#47292911)

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.

Your own example disproves your argument: if the bricks in your skyscraper weighed much less (but had the same compression strength), then you could stack many more of them on top before the bottom brick would be crushed, allowing you to build a taller skyscraper.

Re:Space Elevator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47294881)

It doesn't defeat his point that a brick can only hold so much weight before it is crushed. Reinforced concrete can hold more.

Re: Space Elevator? (1)

sseymour1978 (939809) | about 2 months ago | (#47296547)

Ok then, what is the tallest tower what we can build from this material?
Tethered space elevator idea was rised because it was impossible to build regular space reaching building.

Re:Space Elevator? (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re:Space Elevator? (1)

dhj (110274) | about 2 months ago | (#47292987)

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.

Your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291865)

If your mom was made of this material she'd be able to carry more weight than ten Hulks.

Re:Your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292151)

She allready did she gave birth to a merkin

Really? Stiffness correlates with density? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291883)

Normally, stiffness and strength declines with the density of any material;

[citation needed]. I'm thinking aluminum ladders are a great way to get up to your copper roof. Now try that the other way around, with a copper ladder using the same thickness of material you'd use to make an aluminum ladder.

That's just one example. I'm sure fellow Slashdotters can come up with more. Sure there might be some really, really broad corrrelation that supports the quoted statement. OK, Balsa is weaker than steel; but mercury is really dense and it can't support any load at all.

Re:Really? Stiffness correlates with density? (0)

_merlin (160982) | about 2 months ago | (#47291893)

Read it again: declines with density. DECLINES. Mercury is very dense, hence its stiffness has DECLINED to the point where it is very low.

Re:Really? Stiffness correlates with density? (2, Insightful)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 2 months ago | (#47291949)

No, read it as....
"Normally, stiffness and strength declines with the [decline in] density of any [single] material;" ...because of that follows next:
"that's why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely."

Re:Really? Stiffness correlates with density? (2)

statemachine (840641) | about 2 months ago | (#47291957)

You: Read it again: declines with density. DECLINES. Mercury is very dense, hence its stiffness has DECLINED to the point where it is very low.

Subby: "that's why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely"

Someone's incorrect here.

Re:Really? Stiffness correlates with density? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47293169)

good grief! you're not even wrong.

the fact mercury is a liquid at room temperature is a chemical,
not a mechanical process. it is more related to the valence electrons than
the weight of the nucleus. of course they are related through the number of
protons. see: periodic table on wikipedia.

what the article should say is:
GIVEN a material and GIVEN a structure, it is true that density is prop to
stiffness. a 1mm thick copper tube is not as stiff as a 2mm thick copper tube.

Just print it multiple times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291911)

I use this technology. I print out more 3d printer material 4 or 5 times to make it over a million times stronger than it was originally. Then I print out my final device.

material (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 2 months ago | (#47291913)

The working material is ants.

some text evaported. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about 2 months ago | (#47292821)

They made an utrastrong spongebob squarepants

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291959)

It has come to this.

Re:So... (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 2 months ago | (#47293591)

Are we out of cat food?

3D printing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291965)

Microstereolithography has become 3D printing. Soon we will read: Michelangelo made this statue with a form of 3D printing called sculpture.

Re:3D printing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47293409)

Yup, we've reached peak 3D printing hype. I hope by next year we won't have to suffer through these endless hyped up pseudo-ads.

bitcoin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291991)

But can microstereolithography be used to 3D print bitcoin?

The incredible lightness of being (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47291993)

In the limit, if the material weighs nothing, then 160,000 times nothing is still nothing.

This is not really new (4, Informative)

Aviation Pete (252403) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re:This is not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292083)

yea its a shame MIT can not come up with anything new innovative or practical in the last 25 ish years, they have this head up ass bubble problem

This is not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292187)

The thing is, FIT's materials cannot bear 160,000 times their own weight. That's the newsworthy part.

Re:This is not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292485)

Wow, your reading comprehension is a bit off there. The new thing claimed is a particularly strong structure at a particularly small scale, which gives a higher strength/weight ratio. It's about one particular new microstructure and method of producing it. No supposed 'MIT-it only-counts-when-I-do-it' attitude was involved.

Re:This is not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47294725)

No supposed 'MIT-it only-counts-when-I-do-it' attitude was involved.

Yeah, that would be called Witricity.

Re:This is not really new (1)

hamjudo (64140) | about 2 months ago | (#47293619)

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 getting better.

Re:This is not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47294567)

MIT marketing at work.

No, Fruth (or whatever their name is since I haven't heard of them before today) failed epically at marketing.

Issue in 2 words Shear Strength (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292051)

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.

Doomed technology (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | about 2 months ago | (#47292107)

Until they can 3D print microlattices made of graphene it's a no go.

Re:Doomed technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292665)

Yeah, because there are no other potential engineering applications for an ultra-strong, ultra-light microlattice that doesn't use graphene.

Oh wait...

Creepy Objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292155)

Anyone else looked at the material and felt it creepy. All those holes. Uncanny...

Dear Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292249)

" that's why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely."

That means, dear Republicans, God sucks at maths.

Watch the movie. Not only about carrying weight. (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 months ago | (#47292297)

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.

Re:Watch the movie. Not only about carrying weight (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | about 2 months ago | (#47292411)

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)

Re:Watch the movie. Not only about carrying weight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47293101)

That part is cool. Patentable perhaps. But if they apply for a patent on the idea of 'stretch dominated octet truss' - which is a simply a commonly understood triangular structure - that would be complete bullshit. It's a real cool thing to do, but it's a structure people have used for a very long time now, only using a new kind of 3d printer. Giving it a fancy name and 3d printing it does not make it new.

Re:Watch the movie. Not only about carrying weight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295593)

>The news is that they are printing with light. This means smaller processors.

You don't know anything about how chips are made, do you?

not a 'material', but a 'structure' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47292563)

So someone applied basic structural mechanics to 3d printing. How is that novel?

Shear strength (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#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)

Real World Comparisons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47293051)

Wonder what the crush strength of it is compared to steel or concrete....could make for a very cool new sub ;)

Aircraft, Blimps, all kinds of construction applications.

Need more info.

Vacuum Blimp?? (1)

ankhank (756164) | about 2 months ago | (#47293739)

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 ...

Re:Vacuum Blimp?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47293895)

Old news.

My dickrigible has sustained the vacuum of your mother's mouth on many an occassion, only springing leaks at the very end of the journey anyway.

Nitpick? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 months ago | (#47293877)

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."

Re:Nitpick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47294077)

I think sonamchauhan had a better suggestion to avoid ambiguity in this [slashdot.org] comment above. You're reading [increase in] after the "with" in every case, but not everyone does, or the original sentence would already be as you suggest.

Re:Nitpick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47294201)

That is equivalent to what they said. "X increases with Y" means both X and Y are increasing. "X decreases with Y" means both X and Y are decreasing. Simple English.

You and some other posters seem to be assuming the second noun increases regardless of the actual verb stated, to mean "X decreases with increasing Y," but that's not a correct interpretation. A bad habit you picked up in math class I guess. What if the verb stated had been "walks" or "dances" or "reddens", would you still read in an implicit "increases"?

Microstereolithography to print buildings: not (1)

American Patent Guy (653432) | about 2 months ago | (#47294257)

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...

Another fuel efficiency gain for aero and auto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295187)

If it can be deployed in these applications (scintered fuselage/car frame) it will be pretty amazing.

Ants Can Support 5,000 Times Their Body Weight (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 2 months ago | (#47295217)

but i still weigh more than a gram
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