3D-printed flexible protective armor inspired by a marine mollusc

Scientists have 3D printed a new synthetic polymer armor, a new flexible armor inspired by the ring of marine mollusc stoma, according to a new materials study published in the British journal Nature Communications on Monday. Usually, armor is the protective equipment worn on the body by the ancient generals.

3D-printed flexible protective armor inspired by a marine mollusc

The figure shows a row of mineralized scales that protect areas that are not covered by shell plates. Photo credit: Nature Communications

However, in the actual operation of modern society, many high-risk areas still need such a high degree of safety of the protective gear. Biology has always been the inspiration for armor design, but flexibility has always been a major issue in armor development.

Biologists have known that the back of the marine mollusc stone python has a largeshell plate that can act as a protective force. In fact, the stone slug belongs to a primitive type of shellfish, the shell consists of eight shell plates arranged in a shingle arrangement, shaped a bit like the common tide worm on land. But the most special thing is that its shells are surrounded by a coat film called a ring, so they have rows of mineralized scales that protect areas that are not covered by the shell plate.

This time, Li Ling, a researcher at Virginia Tech In the United States, and his colleagues analyzed how Shi qi could maintain a certain degree of activity while evolving a self-protection mechanism. The team used a number of techniques to study the structure and function of mineralized scales of different stone species, and then designed and 3D printed a synthetic polymer armor to further analyze the structure and function of these scales.

In the experiment, the team also demonstrated that the 3D-printed flexible armor can be used as a knee guard to protect the body from broken glass.

The researchers say that while the armor they are currently developing is made of plastic, the potential for 3D printing of different materials means that the design principles proposed in the study are expected to be applied to other functional prototype designs.

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