New ultrastiff, ultralight material developed

Normally, Fang explains, stiffness and strength declines with the density of any material; that’s why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely. But using the right mathematically determined structures to distribute and direct the loads — the way the arrangement of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal beams do in a structure like the Eiffel Tower — the lighter structure can maintain its strength.

via New ultrastiff, ultralight material developed | MIT News Office.

3-D Printing Will Soon Become a Routine Manufacturing Tool

Additive manufacturing—the industrial version of 3-D printing—is already used to make some niche items, such as medical implants, and to produce plastic prototypes for engineers and designers. But the decision to mass-produce a critical metal-alloy part to be used in thousands of jet engines is a significant milestone for the technology. And while 3-D printing for consumers and small entrepreneurs has received a great deal of publicity, it is in manufacturing where the technology could have its most significant commercial impact

via 3-D Printing Will Soon Become a Routine Manufacturing Tool | MIT Technology Review.

Ancient Egyptian faience may be key to printing 3D ceramics

Working under a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Hoskins and Research Fellow David Huson have been developing a 3D ceramic printing process that can build very finely detailed, complex structures to industrial specifications and standards. The process works by depositing a layer of wet ceramic material layer by layer. As each layer is printed, the printer table drops, a layer of powder is deposited to support the object, and the process repeats.

via Ancient Egyptian faience may be key to printing 3D ceramics.

It isn’t actually a ceramic, but rather a paste made of quartz or sand, calcite lime and a mixture of alkalis. Because of this, it can be applied directly to wet clay. When the pottery is fired, the paste turns into a brilliant blue-green glaze reminiscent of lapis lazuli, which the Egyptians used faience as a substitute for.