Gizmag - 07/05/2016
Steel or cement, plastics or carbon fiber, silicon or graphene: Whether in construction, aerospace or electronics, picking the right material for the job involves choosing the best fit among a limited number of options, which often leads to tricky compromises. Now, a development at the Masdar Institute in the United Arab Emirates could mark a paradigm shift toward designing and 3D printing high-performance materials with features that are custom-designed to fit a specific application.
Applications could range from the aerospace industry, which would take advantage of the high strength and low weight of the nanoengineered materials, to fields that would take advantage of the materials’ porosity, such as water desalination or gas filtration.
“This is elegant work which combines computational and experimental techniques to develop models that can predict the electrical properties of nano composites created by 3D printing,” Dr. Thomas Webster, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University, who was not involved in the study, told Gizmag.
The principal value of this work, Webster tells us, is in the development of computer models that, while not perfect, can give a fairly accurate prediction of the conductivity of a composite material based on its architecture even before it’s 3D-printed.
The researchers are now looking for industry partners to bring this idea closer to commercialization.