By Niall Patrick Walsh
Researchers at MIT have developed a lightweight architected material inspired by the cellular structures found in natural materials such as honeycombs and bones. Produced with techniques borrowed from the Japanese kirigami paper-cutting technique, the strong metal lattices are lighter than cork while also holding customizable mechanical properties.
Using kirigami techniques, the MIT team led by Professor Neil Gershenfeld of the Center for Bits and Atoms has produced plate lattice structures on a larger scale than was previously possible. The structures are described as "steel cork" by Gershenfeld due to their lightweight nature combined with high strength and stiffness.
“To make things like cars and airplanes, a huge investment goes into tooling. This manufacturing process is without tooling, like 3D printing. But unlike 3D printing, our process can set the limit for record material properties,” Gershenfeld said in a statement.