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    CD Designs Blog

    World’s Lightest Material

    A team of US engineers has created the world’s lightest material. It is so light in fact, that it can rest comfortably on a dandelion seed head as shown in the picture below.

    The new material rested on a dandelion

    The new material resting on a dandelion

    The substance is made out of tiny hollow metallic tubes arranged into a micro-lattice – a criss-crossing diagonal pattern with small open spaces between the tubes, which means in reality that the structure is 99.99% air. The researchers say the material is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and has “extraordinarily high energy absorption” properties. “The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” said lead author Dr Tobias Schaedler of the University of California, where the research was carried out along with the California Institute of Technology.

    The material is also very robust for its weight. To study its strength the team compressed it until it was half as thick. After removing the load the substance recovered 98% of its original height and resumed its original shape. The first time the stress test was carried out and repeated the material became less stiff and strong, but the team says that further compressions made very little difference.

    The engineers suggest that practical uses for the substance include thermal insulation, battery electrodes and products that need to dampen sound, vibration and shock energy. They added that the aerospace industry could eventually be one of the beneficiaries from this the new material.

    Installation of Your Driveway

    Following on from our blog entry ‘Preparing for a New Driveway’, here is what you should do with your pattern imprinted concrete driveway during installation, and when it is finished.

    After the concrete has been poured and imprinted, it will take somewhere between 24-48 hours to dry. We will close the area off with hazard tape or barriers, but the responsibility for preventing any damage will be yours. We will discuss the best way for you to access your home, if possible using other entrances for family or visitors. You should also make sure pets are not able to get near.

    Come on lads... Its concrete time!

    Concrete arrives

    Once the concrete is dry the release powder will be brushed off, which will cause some dust in the surrounding area. You will want to make sure all doors and windows are closed, and maybe let your neighbours know as well. After this the drive is given a thorough cleaning with a power washer, which will expose the true colour of the pattern imprinted concrete. We will need electricity and water supplies for this so please make sure they we have access to them.

    During

    Concrete sealant application

    To complete the installation we will apply a sealing coat to the concrete. We will then clean the whole site leaving it in the condition we found it (except for your brand new pattern imprinted concrete drive of course).  Do not park your vehicles on the finished driveway for at least 72 hours after the sealing coat has been applied, as the seal needs time to cure.

    Preparing for a New Driveway

    Hopefully you will be getting ready for us to install a new pattern imprinted concrete driveway in the near future. Here are some tips on how to prepare before we arrive.

    When you order we will let you know which week we will be installing your pattern imprinted concrete driveway.  This is because we can never give a completely accurate date as we need dry weather to begin work. The actual date will be confirmed 24-48 hours in advance, when we can get a much more accurate weather report.

    The first thing to do is to make sure we have full access to your driveway and any other areas we will be working on. Make sure the drive is clear of vehicles, and that any gates we will need to get through are open when we arrive. Also make sure we have access to water and electricity at all times during the installation.

    You may also want to let your neighbours know what is happening, as the process can be noisy, and can create dust which may be blown around. You will want to close your windows and maybe employ dust cloths at doors to prevent damage to carpets. Finally you may want to cover or even remove any plants in areas we will be using to protect them from damage.

    The ultimate patio bench on a budget

    Create a simple patio bench on a budget with breeze blocks

    Create a simple patio bench on a budget with breeze blocks

    With summer rapidly approaching, and most of us dreaming of weekend BBQs, sunbathing and entertaining friends with evening cocktails and garden parties, it’s time to take a serious look at the garden.

    One of the biggest problems with entertaining in your garden, is seating space. Dining room chairs don’t always cut it outdoors and can look a little odd in the informal al fresco environment. They also risk getting scratched – or causing damage to your pattern imprinted concrete patio. But at the same time, you may be reluctant to splash the cash on an expensive garden seating set for occasional entertaining – so what’s the solution?

    Well, how about the ultimate budget patio bench – made from concrete breeze blocks! It’s a DIY enthusiast’s dream and looks really chic when finished. Simply put together the base and sides with concrete breeze blocks, and then fix a wooden plank on top. Once the structure’s in place, add a cut-to-size foam padded cushion, covered with a suitably bright outdoor fabric.

    Your smart new bench will be strong, durable and cost you next to nothing. Concrete breeze blocks can be bought from a variety of builder’s supplies stores, or even DIY stores. The base will be rain proof and winter proof – simply store the fabric covered seating inside when the balmy long evenings of summer draw to an end.

    Certainly for outdoor entertaining at a rock-bottom price, this is a fantastic solution to seating your guests. When it comes to your event, add plenty of brightly coloured cushions, tealight holders in the trees, outdoor solar lamps or a Moroccan lantern or two, and you’ll be fighting your guests for a seat!

    Photo and idea via A Minneapolis Homestead.

    DIY Concrete planters

    Simple yet beautiful home made concrete planters

    Simple yet beautiful home made concrete planters

    People are often surprised by the incredible versatility of concrete. It’s not only vital in construction and building, but also provides an excellent material for craft, design and other varied artistic applications. A great example of this, are home-made concrete planters – which are surprisingly easy to make, and a great project for a warm summer weekend.

    Instead of throwing away your ice-cream tubs or fruit juice containers, gather up some good sized plasticware to make moulds for your own concrete garden planters. Get a bag of concrete from your local DYI store, some sand and some perlite, which will help lighten the concrete once it sets. Use containers of different sizes – one inside the other, then pour the concrete mix in and allow it to set. Release the mould, send your containers to recycling and use a screwdriver to gently work in some base drainage holes.

    These planters will cost a fraction of the price of what you might buy in a garden centre, and you can have fun customising them to suit. Try chiseling in patterns, applying glazes or adding decorative features with adhesive – anything that takes your fancy. Sometimes the best artistic results with concrete are left slightly raw, unfinished and rough around the edges – so avoid the temptation to overly perfect your results. Experimentation will give you a good set of planters to work with and allow you to plant a large array of gorgeous flowers, herbs, fruits or vegetables. With a little artistic flair and creative freedom, your pattern imprinted concrete driveway will be personalised to your taste and absolutely gorgeous to behold. Just don’t be surprised if you’re asked to share your planters’ secrets of origin!

    For the a complete how to guide and to see more images, visit Rad Megans blog.

    Complete Driveway Designs Ltd

    The Yard, Stubbins Lane, Ramsbottom, BL0 0PT
    E:info@northwest-driveways.co.uk
    T: 01706 827180

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