Abu Dhabi: Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has filed a patent for materials that it has designed and produced through 3D printing, the institution announced on Sunday.

Using 3D printing technology, researchers from the institute were able to produce strong ultra lightweight metals and plastics with optimised electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties. The materials can be used to make vehicles lighter and strong, as well as improving the efficiency of water and energy production.

“The foam structures have the potential to become a platform technology, driving innovations across key industries and markets,” said Masdar Institute’s Dr Steve Griffiths, vice-president for Research.

“This project demonstrates how Masdar Institute’s strong advanced materials research capabilities support disruptive technology-based innovations in the Institute’s core research areas of water and energy while benefiting other sectors of importance to the UAE,” he added.

Dr Rashid Abu Al Rub, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, who is leading the collaborative research, speaking on the research said: “We are not creating new materials. Rather, we are redesigning a given material, such as steel or plastic, by manipulating its internal geometry so that we can deliver the desired properties — whether stiffness, electrical conductivity, or porosity — to the material.”

“We have introduced a paradigm shift in how materials are being designed. Currently, people design materials based on a material’s existing chemistry, structure and its corresponding properties. Our vision for material design instead looks first at the desired properties you are targeting in a material for a product application and then applies our proprietary design methods to optimise the structure and its internal geometry so that it will give you those desired properties,” Dr Al Rub added.