Imagine that your jacket changes shape depending on the temperature or your socks can provide additional support with the push of a button. Harvard engineers created a new material using keratin from wool that can be 3D printed in unusual shapes. Even after the material is deformed and "locked" as another kind of shape, just adding a certain stimulus triggers the the material to return to its original shape. From Phys.org:
"This two-step process of 3-D printing the material and then setting its permanent shapes allows for the fabrication of really complex shapes with structural features down to the micron level," said [postodctoral fellow and lead researcher Luca] Cera. "This makes the material suitable for a vast range of applications from textile to tissue engineering."
"Whether you are using fibers like this to make brassieres whose cup size and shape can be customized every day, or you are trying to make actuating textiles for medical therapeutics, the possibilities of Luca's work are broad and exciting," said [bioengineering professor Kit] Parker. "We are continuing to reimagine textiles by using biological molecules as engineering substrates like they have never been used before."
(via Daily Grail)