Tuesday, December 7, 2021

DEVELOPMENTS: Chain Mail-Inspired Fabric Supports 50 Times Its Own Weight

Chain Mail-Inspired Fabric Supports 50 Times Its Own Weight

Source: Interesting Engineering

Published: August 13, 2021

By: Chris Young

The material can easily shift from a fluid to sturdy state and could be used for smart exoskeletons or temporary bridges.

Engineers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore teamed up to develop a chain mail-inspired fabric that transforms from a fluid malleable material into a solid protective material when under pressure, a press statement reveals.

The material could be used for a host of potentially lifechanging applications, including as smart fabric for exoskeletons, for a cast that becomes more or less rigid when needed to facilitate the healing of an injury, and as a deployable bridge that could be thrown over an obstacle and stiffened so that people can walk across with ease.

Chain mail-inspired fabric supports 50 times its own weight

The team set out "to create a fabric that goes from soft and foldable to rigid and load-bearing in a controllable way," said Chiara Daraio, a corresponding author on the team's study, which is published in the journal Nature. The researchers developed the material via a combination of trial and error with different material types and computer simulations of the different patterns and their properties.

They compare the tough state of their material to the way a pack of rice can be extremely hard when vacuum sealed — once opened, however, it flows out of the bag like a fluid. The key to the team's material was controlling this process. Below is a demonstration of the soft, unjammed material being struck by a metal ball.

And here's the same material, struck by the same ball but in its jammed state — it is clearly more impact-resistant and much sturdier.

The material developed by the group of international researchers is composed of hundreds of 3D-printed hollow, 8-sided triangular shapes that can be made out of plastic or aluminum. By jamming these triangular shapes together using a plastic vacuum casing, the team was able to demonstrate that their material could support a load more than 50 times the fabrics' own weight.

Continue reading at: InterestingEngineering.com
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