Steel or cement, plastic or carbon, silicon or graphene - the choice of material largely depends on the application. However, when creating some modern structures, materials scientists have to look for complex compromises. An unconditional breakthrough in this direction was the research of scientists from the Masdar Development Institute from the United Arab Emirates.
Instead of creating entirely new materials, Professor Rashid Abu Al-Rub and his colleagues focused on changing the internal geometric structure of traditional materials from plastics to metals and composites. The technology developed by them made it possible to "tune" any material to the required strength. 3D printing technology has become a catalyst for research.
As you know, density and strength are characteristics that go “hand in hand”. Metals are highly durable, but also heavy. Plastics, composites, on the contrary, are light, but do not have the strength of metals.
By changing the internal structure of the material, scientists have learned to create both strong and lightweight materials with an "air" structure. An example of this approach is the famous Eiffel Tower. The metal structures in it are located in such a way that they occupy only 10% of the total volume of the entire structure. The remaining 90% are airborne.
Scientists from the UAE have created a computer model with which they can create thousands of variants of the same material with different characteristics - thermal, electrical, mechanical, depending on the requirements.