Canadian Packaging

Boeing creates a very light metal structure

By Canadian Packaging staff   

Design & Innovation California Institute of Technology General Motors HRL microlattice The Boeing Company University of California Irvine world's lightest metal structure

A metal structure so light it can sit on the head of a seeding dandelion.

It’s still years away – probably – from being commercially viable, but Boeing has created a new type of metal structure it calls a microlattice, that is as light as a feather. Lighter even.

The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets and satellites, so making its aircraft lighter in some way is always desirable.

Made from 99.999 percent air, Boeing calls it the world’s lightest structure.

It is made with a  nickel-phosphorous alloy which is coated onto a polymer structure, and then removed.


The microlattice now has walls 100 nanometers thick, which is about 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.

As evidenced from the image above, a 2.5 inch piece of the microlattice can sit easily on the seed head of a common dandelion.

Able to be compressed without damaging its over composition, Boeing says it is, of course, looking to see how this metal structure can be utilized in the internal construct of its airplanes to  become  lighter and thus more fuel-efficient.

The actual microlattice structure was first revealed back in 2011 by HRL—a research lab owned by both Boeing and General Motors; the California Institute of Technology; and the University of California Irvine, though HRL says it has been working with the microlattice materials since 2007.

So how could it be utilized in the packaging industry?


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