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NASA 3-D Printed Its Own 'Space Fabric'

NASA

Fashion and science collide with one of NASA's latest projects: a metallic fabric that could aid in space exploration. Looking a lot like medieval chain mail, the fabric is 3-D printed all in one piece.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe the foldable and shape-changing material could work as a shielding and insulating layer on spacecraft and astronaut suits.

Each side of the fabric has a different texture providing dual functionality, which researchers believe is the most important benefit of the material.

"We call it '4-D printing' because we can print both the geometry and the function of these materials," said NASA systems engineer Raul Polit-Casillas. "If 20th-century manufacturing was driven by mass production, then this is the mass production of functions."

The research team at JPL behind the project hopes to test and manufacture the fabric in space.

 NASA/JPL-Caltech

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