Plastics are great because they are so easily moldable into just about anything, but that manipulability also often introduces a degree of fragility as well. For high strength and durability, what you really want is a metal alloy of some kind. Now Yale scientists are doing away with this strength-moldability tradeoff by developing novel metal alloys that are as moldable as plastic.
The resulting materials are stronger than steel, yet easily formed under low heat and pressure into all kinds of shapes and forms. Materials scientists at Yale were looking into the properties of some recently developed bulk mettalic glasses--metal alloys whose atoms are randomly arranged rather than organized into highly-ordered crystalline structures--and found that they can be blow molded just like plastics while retaining their strength and durability.
The alloys--composed of common metals like copper, nickel, titanium and zirconium--can be blow molded via low pressure, low heat processes identical to those used to shape plastics, meaning they aren't any more expensive to process than plastic. The raw materials--the metals themselves--also cost about the same.
They also work well at a variety of scales. Lead researcher Jan Schroers and his team are already using their new blow-molded metals to shape everything from small seamless containers and bottles to medical implants and miniature resonators for microelectromechanicals systems (MEMS), all with the strength and staying power of steel.
"This could enable a whole new paradigm for shaping metals," Schroers said in a press release. "The superior properties of BMGs relative to plastics and typical metals, combined with the ease, economy and precision of blow molding, have the potential to impact society just as much as the development of synthetic plastics and their associated processing methods have in the last century."
Interesting, I wonder if it can be extruded and used for 3D printing technology.
I'd like data on temps and pressure.
Well, the idea having moldable alloys is great, but there seems to be a fact that they're missing. Even if we get that kind of alloy, they never state how light it will be. A main property of plastic that we desire is its light weight. Whose to say that the weight of the alloy won't compensate for its strength?
mostly because they compare it to plastics and not say glass which kinda has the same mold-ability but is rather heavier.
but mostly because even if it's heavier it can still be used for most if not all the same applications as plastic.
in depth info here.
The alchemists of our age, but with a difference - their alchemy is real.
Weight probably wouldn't be an issue seeing as these alloys are stronger than steel, therefore, whatever application they are used for, they wouldn't have to be as thick as the equivalent plastic, thus mitigating the weight problem.
Weight is a big issue as you guys already said.
I'd like to see this in kayaks of all things! Kayaks are 38-54 pounds of 8-14+ feet of molded Plastic. It'd be interesting to see if it had any redeeming qualities in that aspect. Which is why Weight to Strength ratio is key. Metal Kayaks!
In a lighting storm!
This seems like it would be a great leap forwards for the automotive industry, as everyone knows a single piece of metal is normally stronger than many little pieces tacked or bolted together. Being able to blow mold a whole car's chassis and supporting structure will revolutionize the auto industry. Harley used a method of pressure molding the frame for the V-rod using water, I can see some really interesting applications for low heat, low pressure metal fabrication. Weight aside, if it's the same cost, weight, and more stable, it's very valuable. Next time you cross a bridge, think about how many pieces were used, how much effort was put into making those huge I beams, this process could greatly reduce those costs as it no longer required massive smelters to produce. This is one advancement that I will really be watching closely!
I don't think you'll see blow-molded bridges anytime soon...
Does this mean we could print a house made of metal or blow form a house made with metal?
If so, that would be cool and tornado proof!
Maybe they could make a dual wall housing bubble (no pun intended for the housing industry collapse) and then blow it full of insulation.
Voila, a superior insulated house.
Of course wiring could be a bit tricky and insulators would be critical or shocking stories would develop later....
It seems to me that this would be fairly useless for the automotive industry. The whole point of the material is that it takes low amounts of pressure and heat to manipulate, meaning that it will break/bend/melt/whatever when even low levels of heat or pressure (say... from a car engine or 3000 pounds of mass torquing on the chassis) are imposed. Someone who knows more please correct me if I'm wrong.
There is plenty it can be used for in an automotive setting.
One of the simplest ones is probably a switch, thermostat, etc etc. Maybe use it to weave metalic cloth and use it like carbon fiber or use it for flex piping. Interior parts like dash, accessories, etc.
Of coarse all of these depend on thermal properties and weight and other factors.
I can see these becoming VERY popular among mass-produced items that normally use plastic parts as a way to reduce costs and increase unit output. With this technology, they can actually start using metal gears and fasteners in devices again, instead of crappy plastic that breaks after a few months of use. With many products, plastic is used to save money rather than weight, so for those, this is definitely applicable.
Think of anything you've ever owned that you had to replace because a plastic component broke. Now think of what would have happened if the component hadn't broken. For the very young and/or very fortunate, I'll tell you: You would have been better off. With this new process, products should be able to get a much higher durability.
Of course, the only exception is in the case of components that are plastic in order to insulate from electrical current, but these aren't too common. I hope this process is widely adopted very soon, so we can see a huge jump in the durability of everyday items.
When you buy something and it breaks a few months later... that's by design.
Google "planned obsolescence"
I wonder if this low heat metallic glass can be blown like Soda/lime/ash(soft glass) traditionally is, on a blow pipe. That would be a dream come true. Especially if it takes less heat to melt than soft glass, which typically has a working temperature of 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. (My boss pays $1000 a day in overhead to blow art glass)
This is new? Or, how is this diferent from Liquidmetal Technologies? (Has been around for quite a while...)
2 of everything, cheaper plastic one and more expensive metal one , you take yer pick,, me hunt now.