Bio-Armor: Printing Protective Plates From Patterns In Nature: Neri Oxman, the director of the Mediated Matter research group at the MIT Media Lab, designs skins and body armors inspired by human tissue. “Most patterns in nature—whether scales or spiderwebs—have some kind of logic that can be computationally modeled,” she says.
A common example is known as a reaction-diffusion (RD) system. As chemicals form our skin pigments, the force of their reactions shapes how pigments get distributed. To build some of her armors, Oxman works with her colleague Craig Carter to formulate equations based on RD systems. With these equations Oxman creates bitmaps, which determine the location and amount of her composite materials (called photopolymers). She then feeds these bitmaps into a printer to construct functionally graded materials (FGMs).