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Materials for the future of Design! Part I

Posted by
on November 14, 2014 at 08:27 PM

Research and Innovation lead to new materials and in turn, new materials and products bring a whole new approach to design! They radically alter the process of concept development; as designers and architects try to explore the potential of the new material! Here are just some of the wonderful new materials that are changing the way we think, and the way we build - not only buildings, and spaces, but ideas too!

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Over the past million years or so, from the beginning of civilization , man and his use of materials has evolved. Right from the stone age, and the bronze age, all the way to more technologically advanced ages of today, we have seen new and varied ways in which materials have been used to make life easier. So it makes sense that the history of architecture is also deeply engrained in technological developments of the time. Our designs have become bolder, buildings taller, and bridges span wider - with skeletons of steel and cases of thin-shell concrete . In a time that is so buzzing with technological development, we cannot help but drool a little at the material prospects for architecture that are just on the horizon. 

The development of new materials that have increased performance and functionality has become a major driver of innovation in recent years.  it is estimated that 70% of all new product innovation is based on materials with new or improved properties. These new materials and products are changing the way designers and architects ideate and conceive designs radically - to imagine new dimensions in the field of architecture. Here are just some of the wonderful new materials that are changing the way we think, and the way we build - not only buildings, and spaces, but ideas too!


Whereas to date concrete has been used for solid objects, whose formal language is strongly limited by a minimum wall thickness, today completely different results can be achieved with ultra high-strength concrete. Thanks to special mathematical modeling procedures, the optimum particle density can be set for the particular application. By adapting the cement content, the water film density can be significantly reduced by up to 40%. The compression strength is considerably increased. The use of costly additives is unnecessary and material costs are reduced by up to 35%. Ultra high-strength concrete has enormous CO2-reducing potential. Moreover, the higher packing density raises resistance to external influences.


What are commonly referred to as Neptune balls, which are made of matted seaweed fibers, can also be used without additives as an insulating material with natural fire prevention properties .The organic brown material can be found washed up on beaches, and so is very easy to source. As it contains hardly any salts and no proteins it does not rot and the fibers are not harmful to the human organism. With a very low rate of thermal conductivity, sea balls are highly suitable for building insulation , especially in roofs and timber structures.


These high-strength hollow spheres offer an option for flexibly filling non-rigid geometrical shapes. They are produced on the basis of EPS spheres. In an air-suspension coating process, these are coated in a suspension made from metal or ceramic powder, binding agents and water, and subsequently heated. The polymeric material evaporates, and what remains are hollow spheres made of metallic or ceramic material. Thanks to this production principle, any material that can be sintered is suitable for processing. The materials properties can be influenced as regards the thickness and porosity of the outer surface as well as the base shape. On account of the high porosity and the many surfaces that interact, the thermal conductivity of hollow spheres is considerably lower than that of solid materials. Given the geometry of the sphere, hollow sphere structures boast pressure-resistant and rigid characteristics. Hollow spheres are 40-70% lighter than solid-state ones.


Whereas in fiber and particle-reinforced plastics, improvement to the characteristics and increased strength are achieved by embedding fibers or particles from a material other than that used for the matrix, improvements to the quality of self-reinforced thermoplastics tend to be achieved by aligning the molecular structure in semi-crystalline areas in the plastic structure. The characteristics of self-reinforcing thermoplastics are comparable with those of fiberglass-reinforced plastics. Strength and rigidity levels are several times higher than those of conventional thermoplastics. Self-reinforced thermoplastics also have greater impact strength, are more stable when exposed to high temperatures, and more wear-resistant. Expansion caused by heat is only half as much. One advantage is the possibility of pure recycling. Furthermore, self-reinforcing thermoplastics weigh less than fiberglass-reinforced plastics.

These materials offer only a microscopic view into what the future can actually hold for us. And that's not all - in part two of the same article, we cover few more new materials that help scientists and designers alike to create a better tomorrow. So... watch this space!!

Designer : N/A
Photography :Sources & Research

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