Design and Technology
My Own Personal Yellow Brick Road
Oh the Possibilities…

Here are the most interesting new materials I’ve come across this year, smart or modern, I don’t care they’re so cool!! I want to build a garden installation out of air concrete, I crave having a thermotile shower and don’t get me started on neon tea bags…

If materials designers and engineers keep this going who knows I could see the tech and materials in a book like ‘Lucifer’s Dragon’ (Jon Courtenay Grimwood) around in a few years :)

When you think of concrete you don’t think soft, inviting, or airy do you? Well you might soon with the introduction  of light transmitting concrete. A company called Litracon has produced a concrete material filled with optical fibres running from one end of a poured block to the other. These fibres effectively transmit light from one side of the block to the other, they can transmit light over a distance of 50 feet and as the fibres only occupy a vary small percentage of the block it doesn’t significantly effect the structural capabilities of the concrete. I love this material as it has so many opportunities to transform our urban landscape from something harsh and rigid into organic and artistic.

These are really just for fun, thermochromic pigments have been around for a while. The shower application is brilliant!!

?!?!? see through metal? Now I’ve seen everything. This new development is stronger than glass but still just as transparent this aluminum was made by adding in variuos bits and bobs including rubies and sapphires! For the moment it’s being trialed in various military applications and a thin foil version is being used to wrap computer and car parts that need to be protected from static. It’s not cheap enough for main stream use yet but with new developments being made all the time we might yet see the see through drinks can being sold :)

Aerogel is a super low density material that has incredible properties. It can support thousand of times it’s own heat, block out intense heat, cold and sound yet it’s composed of 99.8% air!!! It’s 1,000 times less dense than glass and just as transparent, a single one pound block can support half a tone of weight. Aside from its other capabilities, aerogel also has amazing absorbing abilities. Some say it could be the future solution to oil spills. It is also being tested as a possible slow-release drug deliver system for human patients.

These brilliant tea bags were designed by Takashi Yamada as an eco friendly alternative to tea lights. Just add water and you have a  beautiful glowing liquid in just about any colour. I think they’re awesome but where could you use them? Restaurants? hmmm… children would be seriously tempted to drink it… Adult only situations then like clubs? Nope not there either, drunk people are a lot like children only less sensible :)

Last but by no means least, liquid wood. Thats right you heard me correctly, liquid wood. It looks like wood, feels like wood, is even made of wood – but it shifts shape and solidifies like plastic, bringing together the most powerful material assets of two of the most used materials on the planet. It’s made from lignin, the bit of trees that is left over during the paper-making process. It’s combined with natural resins, flax and fibers that can then be injected into moulds just like plastic! Arboform, as it is known, can be made into just about anything plastic can be with the added bonus that it can break down quickly into products like water and carbon dioxide. In short: I am talking about the precision, flexibility and durability of plastic … with the 100% recyclable, renewable, tactile and aesthetic advantages of wood, in a single new material. Eat your heart out, see-through concrete and transparent aluminum!

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