Ultralight, Ultrastiff 3D-Printed Material Can Hold Over 150,000 Times Its Own Weight

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and MIT researchers have created a material with the same weight and density as aerogel - a material so light it's called 'frozen smoke' - but with 10,000 times more stiffness. This material, which they developed using additive micro-manufacturing processes, could have a huge impact on the aerospace and automotive industries. "These lightweight materials can withstand a load of at least 160,000 times their own weight," says LLNL engineer Xiaoyu Zheng. "The key to this ultrahigh stiffness is that all the micro-structural elements in this material are designed to be over constrained and do not bend under applied load." The additive micro-manufacturing process involves using a micro-mirror display chip to create high-fidelity 3D parts one layer at a time from photosensitive feedstock materials. It allows the team to rapidly generate materials with complex 3D micro-scale geometries that are otherwise challenging or in some cases, impossible to fabricate.