Researchers in Abu Dhabi have filed a patent for 3d printing lightweight foam structures ideal for high end industrial applications.
They have discovered a new method of printing strong, lightweight compositions made from different metals, plastics, and composite materials, pointing out the implications this technology could have on the health care, aerospace, automotive and industrial sectors.
According to Dr. Rashid Abu Al-Rub, the institute’s Associate Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, the key to their foam structures is the internal architecture or internal 3D printed geometry. He compared it to the Eiffel Towers’ lattice and steel beams and struts that provide strength and balance to it.
The material that they have is not new. Instead they are redesigning parts by controlling their internal geometries to achieve more efficient performance. The materials can be 3d printed at a scale a thousand times thinner than a human hair, altering the composition and properties of the material, allowing for the new efficiencies. This allows product designers and engineers to think differently about the structures they're building during the design, production and use stages.
According to Dr. Steve Griffiths of the Masdar Institute, “The foam structures have the potential to become a platform technology, driving innovations across key industries and markets. This project demonstrates how Masdar Institute’s strong advanced materials research capabilities support disruptive technology-based innovations in the Institute’s core research areas of water and energy while benefiting other sectors of importance to the UAE.”