Unusual inflatable material can become the basis of future cars from BMW

<pre>Unusual inflatable material can become the basis of future cars from BMW

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and BMW engineers are working on creating a new material: elastic, lightweight, durable enough to be able to inflate it – and at the same time adapted for 3D printing. The requirements sound contradictory, however the project Liquid Printed Pneumatic has already been launched and even brought the first results. And this means that inflatable cars do have a chance to come true.

MIT engineers placed the nozzle of a 3D printer in a container with liquid helium and forced it to deliver a drop of liquid silicone in combination with gaseous air. Silicone formed the frame of the cell, inside which air was pumped, while still being able to lower it and inflate it again. As a result, a cluster of cells has turned out, which is a new material – dynamic, “alive” and capable of changing its shape.

In theory, from such clusters it will be possible to assemble panels or entire assemblies of future mechanisms that will be able to change their characteristics when supplying air from outside. From just a person-adapted seating surface to an additional door or stiffener, which can be instantly activated if there is a risk that the machine will crash during an accident. It is not so much decorative, as a functional material of the future, albeit still presented in the form of huge and awkward prototypes.

MIT emphasizes the possibility of dynamic controlled modification of the material – it was originally conceived for transformation, and using a 3D printer you can print a complex architecture with any programmed properties. In BMW they prefer practical solutions, but they do not divulge their plans. It can be, for example, a dashboard, which in the event of an accident turns into a safety cushion, and then returns to a hard state.

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