Produced by a 3-D printer, the material is a scale design that offers both flexibility and protection. The finished product is still in development and much more complex, but put simply, the outer layers are rigid and the under layers are more flexible and adaptive to the body.
The U.S. Army Research Office is the agency funding work done by the MIT mechanical engineer Stephan Rudykh. The famous engineering university has the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies on campus.
Army leaders have pushed for advances in materials to protect soldier as the service looks to lighten the load of soldiers. The Army has made strides to make body armor more form fitting, but this scale design would yield a major breakthrough in terms of comfort and weight.
Researchers found that the material increased the penetration protection capability by a factor of 40 while reducing the flexibility factory by only 5.
It gets complicated, but check out the results of the study here.