Balancing a metal structure on top of a dandelion without the dandelion breaking sounds like the beginning of some sort of bar trick sorcery – yet this is entirely possible without the need for any sleight of hand or other forms of trickery.
After years of researching and developing a way to make some of their airplane parts lighter without compromising strength, Boeing (along with HRL Laboratories) have developed Microlattice, a new material structure that’s described as being nearly as strong as titanium but 100 times lighter than styrofoam.
At 99.99% air, the structure is made up of a lattice of woven hollow tubes that are each 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. According to Boeing, “The metal is a nickel-phosphorus alloy that is coated onto an open polymer structure. The polymer is then removed, leaving a structure that consists of 100nm thick walls of the nickel-phosphorus, thus creating the lightest metallic structure.”
Although the company hasn’t announced if they’ll ever make it possible for designers to work with the Microlattice material, one could create something in the same vain through DMLS additive manufacturing.