Engineers created a chain material that becomes 25 times tougher in compression

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Scientists have developed a new type of chain fabric, the elements of which, if necessary, can be «jammed» if necessary, increasing its rigidity of 25 times.

Everyone is familiar with soluble coffee in oblong vacuum sticks. In the packaged state, they are sufficiently solid, but they lose this quality immediately after opening. This is associated with a jams — a physical process characteristic of granular materials, foam, emulsions and other materials with a multitude of individual particles. In the usual state, they have some fluidity or flowability, but under pressure, the interaction between the scattered elements increases, limiting mobility. Such effect is observed in sheets of rings connected with each other, cubes or other hollow volumetric objects.

A group of scientists from the Nanyang Technological University and the California Institute of Technology decided to take advantage of this property to create a new type of chain fabric, which can move from flexible to a rigid state on demand. With the help of 3D printing, they made from nylon plastic polymers a network of clutched octahedra.

In a free state, the material is a flexible tissue. However, if it is sealing it in vacuum plastic packaging, then individual elements are compressed and jammed, as a result of which the rigidity of the structure increases 25 times. Tests have shown that when forming from a compacted material of a flat design in the form of a table, it can withstand a load of 50 times more of its own weight.

In another experiment, the team dropped a steel ball with a mass of 30 g at a speed of 3 m / s. In the free state of impact, the fabric was deformed by 26 mm, and in hard — only 3 mm.

The team also made an aluminum chain option to demonstrate that it possesses the same flexibility and softness, like plastic, but it can be encapsulated in a more dense design. Engineers plan to do this with Kevlar, creating a new basis for body armor.

According to the developers proposed by them, the tissue concept can also be used in exoskeletons, various medical devices with a variable stiffness to maintain the body, and even temporary bridges that can be quickly deployed and strengthened.

Currently, scientists study alternative ways to compress the structure, including magnetism, temperature and electricity.

Recall that recently engineers also developed production technology

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