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Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-12 06:17
  Subject:   [Reddit] Amorphous metal.

"Watch," says Johnson. From a height of about two feet, he drops a steel ball onto a brick-size chunk of the metal. The ball bounces so high and for so long—1 minute and 17 seconds, with a metronomic tick, tick, tick—that it looks unreal, like some kind of cinematic special effect. "When you try that with regular steel, it goes ‘clunk, clunk, clunk’ and stops," says Johnson. If the metal were glued to an unyielding surface such as concrete (instead of sitting on Johnson’s oak coffee table, which absorbs a lot of the energy), "the ball would bounce for more than two minutes," he says. "I’ve done it."

It is called metallic glass, or amorphous metal, and it appears to be nothing less than an entirely new class of material that can be used to build lighter, stronger versions of anything. "Everything from an Abrams tank to an F-16 jet to a bicycle can be made out of this, and because it is two to three times the strength of conventional alloys, you can halve the weight or more. That’s not evolutionary, it’s revolutionary," says Johnson. "This is the structural material of the future."

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  User: osmium_ocelot
  Date: 2006-10-12 11:49 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I heard about this stuff quite a while back, oddly enough it was in relation to golfing technology. They had begun using this stuff in driver heads then. I'm not sure, but I think the manufacturing process is still expensive enough that you still get more strength/dollar with regular materials.
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Willow: DI Impactor
  User: willow_red
  Date: 2006-10-12 14:56 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:DI Impactor
Ooh, I can't wait until they space-rate this stuff (assuming DARPA hasn't done so already). $15 per pound might seem like a lot for standard terrestrial applications, but when you add in the cost of machining and how easy quality control appears to be for this stuff, it could be competitive for spacecraft. Aluminum honeycomb structures are often used for spacecraft structures to make them light and strong. Amorphous metal foam would accomplish that nicely, and since it's stronger, walls could get thinner. I would be curious, though, if it behaves much differently under vibration compared to normal metal crystals.
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May 2015