Researchers from Singapore and the California Institute of Technology have developed a 3D printed fabric with interesting properties: it is usually flexible, but it can Strengthen as needed. You can watch a video about the new fabric below.
The material is composed of interlocking nylon octahedrons. The cloth is enclosed in a plastic envelope and vacuum packed. Once in a vacuum, the sheet becomes harder and can withstand several times its own weight.
Presumably, the idea is to let the material bend in the plastic housing until it needs to increase stiffness, and then remove the air. Of course, this has many practical problems. For example, if the envelope is no longer airtight, the operation will fail. It is also difficult to quickly remove the air in the bag to make something similar to Batman’s cloak, which is a comparison drawn by the researchers.
This fabric uses something called “interference transition”, which causes the particles to switch from a fluid-like state to a rigid state. This is a well-known principle, but it does not apply to solid particles.This
3D printed hollow structures are much lighter. In addition to nylon, the team also tested aluminum fabrics, and the results showed similar results. As you might expect, the strength of the metal was enhanced.
It seems that the design is very simple and can be replicated. Maybe there are some clever ways to overcome the obstacles to the actual use of this material.