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3D-Printed Metamaterial Could Lead to Lighter & Safer Cars in the Future!

3D-Printed Metamaterial Could Lead to Lighter & Safer Cars in the Future!

In the near future, we could be seeing cars built with a new type of 3D-printed material that is made from polypropylene and polyethylene with carbon nanotubes. This metamaterial was designed by a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow and is capable of great impact resistance.

This material could lead to the manufacture of cars that are lighter, tougher, and even safer. What’s more, this durable structure could also see potential application in the field of marine, aerospace, industrial automotive, and renewables industries.

The metamaterials are basically cubic structures made from flexible intersecting layers of plates that can exhibit high strength and stiffness despite a huge amount of space between the plates. These spaces make metamaterial unusually lightweight.

What the Researchers Discovered?

The team of researchers discovered that by using a plastic-nanotube composite, they could create a metamaterial that exhibits advanced properties of toughness, stiffness, and strength.

The composite consists of a mixture of polyethylene and polypropylene with multi-wall carbon nanotubes.

The researchers then used this composite as the feedstock in the 3D printer. This fused the filaments and ended up creating a series of plate-lattice designs. A series of impact tests were carried out on these metamaterial designs. The researchers dropped a mass of 16.7-kg from various ranges of heights to determine the metamaterial’s ability to withstand significant physical impacts.

Tests Conducted:

The team first began by testing three types of metamaterials they designed. These materials were made in two batches — one from polyethylene and the other from polypropylene.

The third was the “hybrid” plastic metamaterial that incorporated features from the simpler designs in the first experiments from both, polypropylene and polyethylene. The hybrid design proved to be the most effective in absorbing shocks and displayed great impact resistance.


With the advances in 3D printing and the implementation of plastics, researchers are finding cheaper and easier ways to design industrial-scale materials with mind-blowing properties.

One application for the new kind of metamaterial could be in the automobile industry, where designers are starving to build cars with lightweight bodies without compromising safety. The future seems promising from here on, and it’s important to note that this innovation could not have been possible without plastic!



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