A brand new lightweight material for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was announced this morning at K 2007, the giant plastics fair in Düsseldorf. BASF will produce a new ultra light foam for the interior of the groundbreaking aircraft. The new foam is 30 per cent lighter than films that had been used for sound and thermal insulation. Pieces cut from the elastic membrane resin foam can be installed with ease in cabin walls because of its open cell network structure. “We investigated several material combinations, and our testing determined that a laminate containing Basotect, the new material, was the most weight-efficient solution to reduce the interior noise in the forward fuselage,” said Randall Smith, Interiors Design Engineer at Boeing.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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