Plastic Stronger Than Steel

This was nearly two years ago. Where can I get a plastic gun barrel for my .300 Win Mag?

Using a novel polymerization process, MIT chemical engineers have created a new material that is stronger than steel and as light as plastic, and can be easily manufactured in large quantities.

The new material is a two-dimensional polymer that self-assembles into sheets, unlike all other polymers, which form one-dimensional, spaghetti-like chains. Until now, scientists had believed it was impossible to induce polymers to form 2D sheets.

Such a material could be used as a lightweight, durable coating for car parts or cell phones, or as a building material for bridges or other structures, says Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the senior author of the new study.

“We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things,” he says. “It has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that.”

See also Irreversible synthesis of an ultrastrong two-dimensional polymeric material | Nature.


4 thoughts on “Plastic Stronger Than Steel

  1. Might be useful for gun parts, or for specialty low-rate-of-fire items, might not be. Typically polymers have very poor thermal conduction properties, and a major feature that guns need in their chamber/barrel area is heat dissipation. That’s actually one major benefit of the brass case that caseless ammo has a hard time dealing with.

    But overall, having more strong/light/cheap materials options available is a good thing.

    • There are dynamic and hardness issues as well.

      Still, it is very interesting and I’m sure entirely new structures which we haven’t even thought of will be possible with such a material.

      My second thought on what to build with is it a space elevator.

  2. Something they don’t talk about all the properties of a given material. As strong as steel, but brittle? Or can be bent and twisted in shape?
    The best thing about steel is its elastic properties. It’s hard, but springs back after a hard blow. It can be bent and twisted without snapping.
    But something like they describe would be great for car body parts and such.
    And were long passed the time of needing glass for windshields, door windows, sunroofs. With seatbelts and airbags. We should have plastic windshields that don’t scratch or break every time a gravel truck goes by the opposite direction.
    Something like that would be very useful!

    • Glass is actually fairly hard, though slightly softer than quartz and various other ingredients of rocks. So it’s not all that easy to scratch glass, while plastics scratch much faster. In other words, plastic windshields could be a help as far as impact resistance goes, but a major loss for scratch resistance.
      The other question would be “what plastic?” Depending on the answer, various organic chemicals would be a hazard. It would be annoying to spill some acetone on your car and end up with a hole in the windshield.

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