Develop body armor inspired by fish scales

http://3dprint.com/56694/scale-inspired-body-armor/

3dp_scale_armor_Professor_Stephan_Rudykh

US Army is Using 3D Printing to Develop Body Armor Inspired by Fish Scales

A collaboration between American and Israeli researchers has produced a prototype of a new type of body armor inspired by the flexibility of fish scales and other naturally occurring imbricated body armor. The armor prototype was designed to maximize the wearer’s ability to move unencumbered while providing significantly more protection than standard Kevlar body armor.

While scale armor has been used for centuries, examples very often had very little in common with the fish scales that inspired it. They were made of rigid plates crudely attached to each other and offering little in the way of maneuverability. But the body armor developed by MIT and Technion does more than simply look like the scales that inspired it and actually creates multiple layers of rigidity and flexibility, just like real fish scales. The outer layers of the body armor is made of stiff plates while being attached to a highly flexible under-layer.

“Many species of fish are flexible, but they are also protected by hard scales,”explained project lead Professor Stephan Rudykh of the American Technion Society. “The secret behind this material is in the combination and design of hard scales above with soft, flexible tissue below.”

The key is altering the shape and size of the scales depending on what part of the body is being covered; this allows the user to have more protection in areas that require less flexibility and a greater degree of motion than typical body armor would allow. The flexibility ratio was calculated using a new metric developed especially for this project called “protector-flexibility.”

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The armor is being 3D printed on the Objet500 Connex from Stratasys which allows for multiple printing materials to be used at the same time. This allowed researchers to experiment with altering the density of the scales until they found an ideal ratio that increased the resistance to penetration by a factor of 40 with only a reduction in flexibility of a factor of five.

And the armor can even be customized to suit the wearer’s body and individual preferences, so users can sacrifice flexibility for durability depending on the specific mission requirements. Mission parameters are going to vary between a sniper hiding in dense foliage to a Navy SEAL engaging hostiles. Current body armor options are made of Kevlar fibers and offers a lot less mission-specific adaptability.

The MIT research was backed by the US Army Research Office, which is clearly looking for alternative combat armor options and the prototype will be tested for military applications and for its effectiveness in stopping projectiles. But because of the flexibility of the prototype, varieties of the new type of scale armor can also be adapted to help protect astronauts from ambient radiation or micro-meteorites while performing actions while on a space walk.

This isn’t the first time that nature has inspired advances in technology and it isn’t even the first time that modern 3D printed scale armor has been researched. However, Rudykh and his team have taken it to the next level by bringing the armor to the prototype stage for testing. It is very likely that our future military personnel and law enforcement officers will be custom fitted with 3D printed body armor that was created specifically for their bodies and individual duties.

“Our findings provide new guidelines for developing simple material architectures that retain flexibility while offering protection with highly tunable properties,” concluded the researchers. “The tailored performance of the protective system – with characteristics that can be tuned according to the required movements at different regions of the body – draws its abilities from the microstructural geometry. The ability for a given microstructure to offer different deformation resistance mechanisms is key to achieving the multifunctional design of stiff plates and soft matrix. We found that careful selection of microstructural characteristics can provide designs optimized for protection against penetration while preserving flexibility.”

What do you think about the latest 3D printed advancement that was inspired by nature? You can discuss it on the 3D Printed Fish Scale Inspired Body Armor forum thread over on 3DPB.com.

3dprint.com

by  | APRIL 8, 2015

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3D printed food for soldiers!

Feeling Hungry? Check out what’s on the menu for the future soldiers of America!

http://www.npr.org/…/361187352/army-eyes-3d-printed-food-fo…

Army researchers will try to find ways to 3-D print nutritious food with less heavy packaging than the current military meals.

Army scientists have spent decades concocting meals that last without refrigeration and survive high-altitude airdrops. And now, the Army is eyeing a new form of cooking: 3-D printing! Yes, food that comes fresh out of a printer, for our troops.

Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist leading the team at the Army’s Natick research center, lays out the vision.

Imagine soldiers who are strapped, head to toe, with sensors that measure if they’re high or low in potassium or cholesterol.

“We envision to have a 3-D printer that is interfaced with the soldier. And that sensor can deliver information to the computer software,” Oleksyk says. “And then they would be able to have either powdered or liquid matrices that are very nutrient dense, that they have on demand that they can take and eat immediately to fill that need.”

“Liquid matrices” that are nutrient “dense.” And you print them?!

You read that right.

The Army is turning to 3-D printers for many purposes, including a nutrition project — to stamp out the equivalent of PowerBars, but personalized for the battlefield.

The Department of Defense has just approved research funding. And it’s going to take a lot of research. While regular printers put ink on paper, 3-D printers blast liquids and powders into complex shapes. But it’s not clear if printers could mold a solid like carrots — and what would happen to the food’s nutritional value.

“There’s synthetic types of meats, there’s real beef, there’s real meat,” Oleksyk says. “And we would see what that does in the printing process to that protein, whether it’s animal based or plant based.” She’s talking about this research with the MIT Lincoln Lab and NASA too.

Of course, the 3-D food will have to pass a taste test, just like the current rations — which are called MREs, or meals ready to eat.

Oleksyk mailed me a bunch to sample. I try a jalapeno pepper jack-flavored patty. It is full of flavor, and also very processed, like someone had to jam a lot into a little patty.

The kitchens that make this patty use flaming hot ovens and extreme heat to sterilize it. Oleksyk says if 3-D printers could use less heat, the patty could also taste better — less like a compact muscle and more like fresh ground meat.

“We hope so! It’s not being done, so it’s something that we will investigate in our project,” she says.

In the food world, 3-D printing is just getting started — and it’s a sweet start, literally.

Liz von Hasseln is giving me an online video tour of The Sugar Lab, a 3-D printing outfit in Los Angeles that turns sugar into sweet candy sculptures for wedding cakes and fancy cocktails. The startup was acquired by 3D Systems, which is sharing its technology with the military in informal talks.

She points to a printer that’s the size of an industrial photocopier and explains, “What the printer does is, a lot like making frosting in a bowl, it basically adds the wet ingredients of the frosting to the dry ingredients very, very precisely in very fine layers.”

Von Hasseln sent me some samples to try — and they’re very different from the military food. I unwrap a delicate sphere that’s a little bigger than a lollipop. It tastes like Sweet Tarts.

It’s hard for me to imagine this technology producing anything nutritious or durable. But von Hasseln husband, Kyle, co-founder of The Sugar Lab, says the printer’s ability to vary textures — to make food soft or hard — would be critical for soldiers who are injured or on the move.

“Dialing in the exact density of food could mean that they could eat more easily and because of that, as a consequence, they might even eat more or be healthier,” he says.

3-D printed food sounds sci-fi. But according to military scientists and 3-D experts, these meals for soldiers are on track to be ready by 2025.

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3D printed warheads for the US Army

The US Army is making warheads using 3D printing.

Not just ‘normal’ warheads. Due to better design control and use of patterns that could not be used prior to 3D printing, these warheads are deadlier, more efficient and more economical than traditional ones.

It’s worrying, yes, but it’s also really, really impressive to see how this technology can be used ANYWHERE and improve the field.

The US Army is building deadlier, more efficient, and less costly warheads using 3D-printing technology, according to new reports.

While 3D printers have made more headlines for their ability to makehomemade firearms, and for more benevolent uses like the development ofprosthetic arms or facial reconstruction surgery, the Army is planning to use them to print sophisticated warhead components on the cheap, according to Army Technology magazine.

“3D printing of warheads will allow us to have better design control and utilize geometries and patterns that previously could not be produced or manufactured,” James Zunino, a researcher at the Armament Research, Engineering and Design Center, told Motherboard.

Traditional manufacturing methods are no match for what 3D printers can offer such weapons of mass destruction. 3D-processed components could allow for superior design such as the ability to “pack in additional payloads, sensors, and safety mechanisms,” Motherboard wrote.

Weaponry made by 3D printers will also allow the military to engineer more precise specifications on warheads, such as blast radiuses.

“Warheads could be designed to meet specific mission requirements whether it is to improve safety to meet an Insensitive Munitions requirement, or it could have tailorable effects, better control, and be scalable to achieve desired lethality,”Zunino said.

And while the US Army is attracted to 3D printing’s ability to offer more efficient mechanisms for killing, the cost-effectiveness at a time of budgetary cutbacks is enticing as well.

“3D printing also allows for integrating components together to add capabilities at reduced total life cycle costs,” Zunino said. “It is expected that 3D printing will reduce life-cycle costs of certain items and make munitions more affordable in the long run through implementation of design for manufacturability, and capitalizing on the add capabilities that 3D printing and additive manufacturing can bring to munitions and warheads.”

Zunino added that the Army is not likely to stop at mere component manufacturing.

“Maybe someday an entire warhead or rocket could be produced as the technology further matures,” Zunino said.

Printing weaponry in 3D doesn’t stop with the Pentagon. Defense giant BAE Systems announced in January that the British Royal Air Force’s Tornado fighter jets have performed their first flights with some onboard metal parts manufactured using 3D-printing technology.

BAE has also claimed in recent months that by 2040, aircraft will be able to use 3D printers to self-heal or produce mini-drones during missions using what they called ‘Transformer’ technology.

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