Aerospace giant Boeing has released a video showing the lightest metal structure ever. The video shows the metal in high definition and explains why it is so important.
Called the Microlattice, the entire structure is incredibly 99.99% air and is comparable to the hollow honeycomb architecture of bone. However still, it appears solid from the outside. It is composed of a network of super thin, hollow struts. The unique design makes Microlattice ten times lighter than Styrofoam.
The honeycomb structure allows the metal to be both super durable and lightweight. It is so light that it floats to the ground like a feather when you blow on it in your hand, and doesn’t compress a dandelion when you sit on top of the metal.
Boeing has also revealed that they are going to use this metal soon in their airplanes and rockets. By doing this, the company will be able to cut down on their weight, create more room within the fuselage and increase fuel efficiency, all while still being tough enough to endure the rigors of flight. “This will save a lot of money in fuel costs while still maintaining a strong structure”, the company release says.
Better rocket speed can also be achieved by cutting down weight. It will be easier to fly out of gravity.
Bill Carter, manager of the materials group at HRL, had this to say, “It’s sort of like a feather — it floats down, and its terminal velocity depends on the density”.
The new metal may one day be used by the aerospace industry, in high-performance vehicles, and for shock absorption and vibration insulation as well.
Microlattice was first announced in 2011 when a nickel-phosphorous alloy prototype was developed in collaboration between University of California, Caltech and HRL Laboratories, the Boeing-owned lab that built the first laser in 1960.