A new type of body armor for the U.S. Army is heavily influenced by the way fish scales offer protection and provide a range of flexibility.
According to News Week, prototypes of the armor have been produced by American and Israeli researchers. By using 3D printers, researchers were able to duplicate the overlapping layers of scales and soft tissues commonly found in most fish.
“Many species of fish are flexible, but they are also protected by hard scales,” said Professor Stephan Rudykh, who led Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The secret behind this material is in the combination and design of hard scales above with soft, flexible tissue below.”
The upper layer of the body armor consists of stiff plates and a flexible lower matrix. Testing shows the armor has the potential to greatly increase the level of resistance against penetration, but only slightly reducing its flexibility. This will further be tested as the armor will be put up against bullets and fast-moving projectiles.
The armor not only has military uses, but can also be used to shield astronauts from radiation and micro-meteorites when on spacewalks. The flexibility of the armor has the capability to be fine-tuned to fit its needs.
The U.S. military currently uses body armor made mostly of Kevlar, a high-strength synthetic fiber first developed in the 1960s.