Scientists Discover New Type of Metal, Has Super Power

New 3D printed metamaterials appear to have levels of strength against loads that appear to exceed natural levels of strength. Scientists say this new type of metal has superpowers. These new materials could have significant implications for everything from medical implants to airplanes to rockets. This new metamaterial is an artificial structure that exhibits electromagnetic properties not seen in nature, made from ordinary titanium alloys.

What differentiates it here is the structure. The material has a unique lattice design that not only makes it unique, but also very strong. According to a new study by a team of researchers from Australia’s RMIT University, the material is 50% stronger than other strongest alloys with similar densities, used in aerospace applications.

But how did they come up with this design? Like many groundbreaking discoveries, the inspiration for this new material came from observations of nature. In this case, strong smooth-stemmed plants such as Victoria water lilies and hardy corals such as organ pipe coral (Tubipora musica) provide instruction on how to combine lightweight and durable materials.

Scientists Discover New Type of Metal

But observing strong natural structures is one thing, replicating them in artificial materials is another. For decades, researchers have attempted to create their own hollow ‘cellular structures’ similar to those seen in examples in nature, but their efforts failed due to manufacturing problems and stress loads, which led to failure.

“Ideally, the stress on all complex cellular materials should be distributed evenly,” said Professor Ma Qian in a statement quoted from IFL Science.

“However, in most topologies, typically less than half of the material bears most of the compressive load, while larger volumes of material are not structurally significant,\” he said.

However, what makes the difference in this case is the unprecedented, innovative solution offered by metal 3D printing.

“We designed a hollow tubular lattice structure that has thin ribbons inside. These two elements together exhibit strength and lightness that have never been seen together in nature,” added Qian.

“By effectively combining two complementary lattice structures to distribute pressure evenly, we avoid weak points where pressure is usually concentrated,” he said.

Powerful Yet More Affordable
To create this new wonder material, Qian and his colleagues 3D printed their design at RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct using a technique called laser powder bed fusion. This approach melts a layer of metal powder using a high-power laser beam.

The researchers designed a hollow tubular lattice structure with thin ribbons inside, combining two complementary lattice structures to distribute pressure evenly. This approach avoids the concentration of pressure on specific weak points, a common drawback in previous attempts to recreate natural structures. The use of laser powder bed fusion in the 3D printing process at RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct played a pivotal role, melting metal powder layers with a high-power laser beam to bring the intricate lattice design to life.

This metamaterial not only exhibits unprecedented strength but also offers a more cost-effective solution. The fusion of strength and lightness in this artificial structure opens doors for applications in fields where the balance between durability and weight is critical, revolutionizing industries and paving the way for advancements in medical, aerospace, and other engineering domains. As this innovative technology continues to evolve, its potential impact on diverse sectors promises a future where materials with superpowers become integral to everyday life.


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