Scientists have developed a new type 'CHAIN MAIL' fabric that is flexible like cloth but can stiffen on demand, The lightweight fabric is 3D-Printed from nylon plastic polymers and comprises hollow octahedrons (a shape with eight equal triangular faces) that interlock with each other. When the soft fabric is wrapped within a flexible plastic envelope and vacuum-packed it turns into a rigid structure that is 25 times stiffer or harder to bend than when relaxed. The physical principle behind it is called "jamming transition," similar to the stiffening behaviour in vacuum-packed bags of rice or beans. An example from popular culture would be Batman's cape in the 2005 'Batman Beings' which is generally flexible but can be made rigid at will when the caped crusader needs it as a glider. Known as "wearable structured fabrics", the development could pave the way for next-generation smart fabrics that can harden to protect a user against an impact or when additional load-bearing capacity is needed. Potential applications may include bullet-proof r staf-proof vests, configurable medical support for the elderly and protective exoskeletons for high-impact sports or workplaeplaces like construction sites. The scientists behind the development were from Nanyan Technological University, Singapore (NTU SINGAPORE) and the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH), United States.
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