SLM Selective Laser Melting - Metals of Nothing
Michelangelo created the genius that is the statue David by removing what did not need to be there. The genius of Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is that it does the reverse. It builds shapes by mostly adding nothing. By nothing we mean air. It can achieve "nearly 90% reduction in weight but still retaining an extremely strong structure and stiffness." Managing to include over 450 holes and channels per centimetre (0.39 inch). SLM (don't ya just love three word acronyms (TWA)?) does this in stainless steel and chromium-cobalt, but can also work its magic in zinc, bronze and titanium and alloys thereof. Basically SLM builds structures by computerised fusing of metal powder, layer-by-layer. The reason this might be important is simply that we can use much less resources to get the results we need. For example, a car, truck, ship or aircraft that has metal components 90% lighter than standard, requires much less fuel to propel. SLM would appear (admittedly, to an untrained eye) to be the metal worlds equivalent of Aerogel. If each material lives up to its hype, a brave new world might indeed be possible. But as Lloyd rightly pointed out it's more important to adjust attitude and actions, than rely on technology for the answers to the singular issues. ::Selective Laser Melting from MCP Group.