Lighter is better in the aerospace industry, and there’s big business to be gained in the development of materials that can be incorporated into aircraft and greatly improve efficiency while retaining strength.


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Boeing developed such a material back in 2011. It’s made from metal and yet its 100 times lighter than styrofoam.The three dimensional structures it can form are actually 99.9 percent air, but they retain a strong and ridged shape. Called microlatice, the material was developed several years ago.

Just recently Boeing released new details on how the material is created and the potential role it could play in aerospace and other industries.

Like Bones And Honeycombs
Microlatice has been compared to the structure of the human skeletal system. Our bones are not completely solid but instead are made up of numerous chambers and cavities. These interconnected hollows amount to a strong form that’s capable of sustaining considerable weight.

We’ve seen this principal in action through honeycomb shaped structures. When viewed from a cross-section they look mostly empty, but their interconnected structure means they can be used to support all manner of systems, including those used aboard various types of aircraft.

Air Infused Planes, Autos, And More
Researchers at HRL Laboratories have already proposed the use of microlatice for structural reinforcement in commercial jets. The intricately interlocked metal of microlatice can take on a variety of forms.

Such forms could then be compressed and maintain properties of considerable force absorption while taking up less space than other cushioning materials.

Credit: Nestek

It could be used to reinforce a cabin’s side panels, floor panels and other parts. Besides aerospace, the automotive industry could employ microlatice as part of auto interiors for reduced vehicle weight and better fuel economy.

Microlatice may have even more to offer than lightweight strength. Its compact insulation properties could be used to dampen vibration, sound, shock, and thermal energy.

How would you put this open cell structural material to work? Do you think microlatice will be a revolutionary development for aerospace, the automotive industry, and others? Comment and tell us your thoughts.

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