NASA has brought a large number of technological advancements to humanity; LEDs, memory foam, and freeze drying to name a few. Despite budget cuts, innovation at NASA continues. The latest advancement, however, seems more medieval than space age. But, looks can be deceiving. NASA’s 4D printed “Space Fabric” may just look like chainmail, but it has a whole lot more going on.

The material looks woven, but this pliable “Space Fabric” was actually made with 3D printing technology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Project head Raul Polit Casillas actually refers to it as ‘4D’ printing due to the fact that they print the material with not only geometry in mind but functionality as well.

That functionality includes; protecting astronauts and spacecraft from impacts (like small meteorites), for capturing objects, or as insulation in cold places like Jupiter’s moon Europa. And that’s just the beginning.

 

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