Scientists from NTU Singapore and the Caltech (USA) have developed a lightweight fabric, which is 3D-printed from polyamide (PA) plastic polymers. It comprises hollow octahedrons (a shape with 8 equal triangular faces) that interlock with each other. This new material is inspired by chainmail that can transform from a foldable, fluid-like state into specific solid shapes under pressure.
When it is encased in a plastic envelope and vacuum-packed, it becomes 25 times more rigid and can hold up over 50 times its own weight.
This next-generation fabric paves the way for lightweight armor that can harden to protect a user against an impact, protective gear for athletes, and exoskeletons that can help the elderly to stand, walk and carry objects.
This interdisciplinary research results from a collaboration between experts in mechanical engineering and advanced manufacturing of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA/USA.