Westfield Technology Group is currently collaborating with companies and universities in the UK, USA and China on the use of metallic Microlattice in its future vehicles, having been awarded Niche Vehicle Network funding to investigate the potential uses of it in the Niche Vehicle Sector.
On 6th October 2015 The Boeing Company announced to the world they had created the worlds lightest material, Microlattice, a nickel-phosphorus alloy. Current plans are to use it in non-structural parts of the aircraft, providing a large weight reduction.
Metallic microlattice is a synthetic porous metallic material consisting of an ultra-light metal foam. It is a new class of material that combines the useful mechanical properties of metals with smart geometrical orientations, providing greater stiffness, strength-to-weight ratio and good energy absorption capacity, compared to other types of cellular materials currently used in sandwich construction, such as honeycomb, folded and foam. It consists of micro struts stacked in different arrangements and most of the volume is occupied by air voids. Microlattice It has a density of 0.9mg/cm3 being the lowest value of any know solid. It is one of the lightest structural materials known.
Voted as one of the top ten world innovations, 100% lighter than Styrofoam and being 99.99% hollow, it can sit on top of a dandelion.
The unique lightness and strength is the result in the laser cutting. The structure of the material was developed by University of California-Irvine, CalTech, and HRL Laboratories for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), to allow it to absorb stress and rebound back to its original from.
This could potentially revolutionise car manufacturing – a car body lighter than the same design made from Styrofoam, yet able to absorb an impact and return to its designed form. Lighter cars mean less drag and better fuel efficiency, and the ability to absorb so much energy is an obvious safety plus, too.
Westfield are looking to use Microlattice in the vehicle to complement its already ultra-lightweight philosophy.
Julian Turner Chief Executive Officer said,
“Due to the space constraints of our vehicles we have to innovate with materials and technology to enhance the products for our customers. We are very excited to be working with Microlattice as a complementary material in the vehicle. Microlattice has very different material properties to carbon which is glass-like in its structure. This material is a game changer for our vehicles.”