A sample of cellular composite material is set in a load-testing machine to measure mechanical properties such as strength and stiffness (Photo: Kenneth Cheung)
MIT's new digital material allows the assembly of huge structures like towers, spacecraft and airplanes by snapping blocks together (Photo: Kenneth Cheung)
Close-up view of cellular composite material sample (Image: Kenneth Cheung)
One of the processes used to manufacture optimized carbon fiber reinforced polymer material parts, for reversible assembled cellular composite materials (Photo: Kenneth Cheung)
MIT researchers have invented a new digital material with a block-like design which could allow the assembly of huge structures like towers, spacecraft and airplanes – simply by snapping blocks together. Parts 10 times stiffer than existing ultralight materials can be assembled instead of engineered, by small robots crawling over the structure adding pieces of material bit by bit. Not only does the tinkertoy-like block construction method enable any structure to be assembled and disassembled easily, it's also possible to recycle them into entirely new configurations.
Other Images from this Gallery