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3D Printed Flexible Protective Armor

Dec 12, 2019

It is understood that the latest results of materials science published by the British "Nature ยท Communication" magazine on the 10th, the scientists 3D printed a new synthetic polymer armor, which is inspired by a marine mollusk ring New flexible armor.


3D printed armor

In general, armor is the protective equipment worn by ancient soldiers. However, in the actual operation of modern society, many high-risk areas still need similar high-safety protective gear. Biology has always been the inspiration for armor design, but flexibility has always been a major issue in armor development.

Biologists have previously known that marine mollusks have large shells on their backs to protect them. The stone clam is actually a primitive type of shellfish. The shell is composed of 8 shell plates arranged in a shingle shape. But the most special thing is that there is a circle of outer membrane around the shell, called an endless belt, so they have rows of mineralized scales to protect the parts not covered by the shell plate.


This time, Li Ling, a researcher at Virginia Tech and his colleagues, analyzed how mollusks could maintain a certain degree of activity while evolving a self-protection mechanism. The research team studied the structure and function of the mineralized scales of different stone gangue species using multiple technologies, and then designed and 3D printed a synthetic polymer armor to further analyze the structure and function of these scales.


In the experiment, the research team also demonstrated that this 3D printed flexible armor can be used as a knee pad to protect the body from being scratched by broken glass. The researchers said that although the armor they are currently developing is made of plastic, it has the potential to 3D print different materials, meaning that the design principles proposed by the study are expected to be applied to the design of other functional prototypes.


Throughout the ages, craftsmen who design weapons and armors may have gained a lot of inspiration from animals. The beetle resembles a tank, a dragonfly resembles a helicopter, a shark resembles a torpedo ... and now there are more flexible armors of the same type in mollusks. It is like a soft hedgehog in a martial arts novel, which fits well and is inaccessible. Future soldiers, firefighters, and pilots can use it to defend themselves. In addition to giving us resources, nature has also given ingenious designs.