Created a lightweight fabric that hardens when needed

Created a lightweight fabric that hardens when needed
Created a lightweight fabric that hardens when needed
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The development will be useful for creating body armor, exoskeletons for the elderly or clothing for sports.

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A team of scientists from Nanyang University of Technology (Singapore) and California Institute of Technology (USA) have developed a new type of fabric for nylon chain mail. It is flexible and lightweight, but at the same time it can become very durable if its owner wants it. The work was published in the journal Nature.

The fabric is 3D printed from nylon polymers. These, in turn, are made up of hollow octahedra (shapes with eight equal triangular faces) that interlock with each other. When the fabric is placed in a vacuum envelope, it becomes 25 times stiffer than in air.

The development could pave the way for the next generation of intelligent tissues. Engineers even speculate that the fabric may in the future serve as the basis for the creation of body armor, exoskeletons for sports or the elderly, as well as protective clothing for construction workers.

“Inspired by ancient chain mail armor, we used plastic hollow particles that interlocked with each other to increase the rigidity of our custom fabrics,” said lead author Wang Yifan of Nanyang University of Technology.

“To further improve the rigidity and strength of the material, we are working on fabrics made from a variety of metals, including aluminum, that can be used for larger industrial applications requiring higher load capacities such as bridges or buildings.”

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