Engineers learn to 3D print bulletproof polymer blocks

Scientists at Rice University have developed a lattice-structured polymer material that has a unique diamond-like hardness, making it suitable for bullet protection.

Its basis is the tubulan material, developed in 1993 and representing a complex structure of interconnected nanotubes. Tubulan was incredibly durable, but until now there was no technology for its production on an industrial scale. With the advent and development of 3D printing, the situation has changed.

Rice University engineers used tubulan theory to model different types of blocks and then create 3D printed versions of them.

To test the strength, two cubes were made from the same material, only one of them was made by casting, and the second was printed on a 3D printer, after which they were fired at with bullets flying at a speed of 5.8 km / s. As a result, the 3D cube turned out to be 10 times more effective at absorbing impact - the bullet was already stuck in its second layer.

The printed cube showed no less efficiency under the influence of the press: instead of cracking, it gradually deforms, as if absorbing pressure.

According to one of the authors of the study, Said Mohammad Sayadi, the new material will find application in the field of civil engineering, in the aerospace industry, oil and gas production.