Of course, they're not piecing it together like the people of yesteryear – they're printing it out.
The Fourth Dimension Is Function
Systems engineer Raul Polit Casillas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Pasadena, California is working with a team to develop a metal fabric strongly resembling chainmail in both look and functionality. It makes sense that Casillas would turn his attention to futuristic fabric—his mother is a fashion designer, after all. On its smooth, tiled side, the metallic fabric reflects light, while the other side absorbs it, so it can offer not only physical protection, but thermal protection too.
Rather than painstakingly linking each piece by hand, the fabric is 3D—make that 4D printed. "We call it '4-D printing' because we can print both the geometry and the function of these materials," Casillas said in a statement. The printing process makes the material incredibly versatile, since it can be created both on Earth and in space.