LEGENDS LIMITED "Great Ape Vegeta" recently made his rampaging debut in the app game "Dragon Ball Legends", so to celebrate, we enlisted the help of a real-world expert in the field of material science to help us investigate Vegeta's iconic battle armor! We had one simple question: "Is making battle armor with enough elasticity to withstand the transformation into a Great Ape possible?!"
Check out Part 1 of the interview here!
――Last time, we arrived at the conclusion that polyurethane is our best option for a stretchy base material. However, we then encountered the major issue that, even though it has the required elasticity, if its wearer transformed into a Great Ape, the material would become so thin that it turns see-through...
The battle armor has to be suitably stretchy without turning see-through. To find out if wearing something like that would be possible, let's calculate the required thickness of the base battle armor. Using the average surface area of adult-sized clothing, let's think about what the surface area of a Great Ape's outfit would be. It's also worth mentioning we'll be assuming that, since the amount of material used in the battle armor would be fixed, the battle armor's weight will remain constant, even post-transformation. (The law of conservation of mass)
[Assumption] Average surface area of adult clothing: Pants 2㎡ + Top 2㎡ = Total 4㎡
Let's say that the Great Ape's height is four times greater than the Saiyan's original height. The surface area of the clothes will then increase 16-fold (4 x 4 = 16), which brings the total surface area to 64㎡. Further assuming that the area density (mass per unit of surface area) of the material in Great Ape-form is 0.5kg/㎡, we get 32kg of material. That would then also be the weight of the pre-transformation battle armor you'd have to wear. Although, I suppose thanks to his intense training, Vegeta wouldn't find that much of an issue!
Next let's think about the thickness. In order for the battle armor to not turn see-through post-Great Ape transformation, let's say the material would need to remain 1mm thick. That gives us a pre-transformation thickness of 16mm (assuming the density is unchanged). I think one could realistically wear such battle armor.
――It seems like it's impossible to separate elastic materials from this "see-through problem".
When you stretch a fiber, the individual yarn get thinner, so regular cloth will spread out like a net and turn see-through. To overcome this issue, you need to create fiber that doesn't get thinner when stretched, or potentially even fiber that gets thicker when stretched.
In the scientific field, fiber that gets thicker when stretched is referred to as "Auxetic Fiber" among other names. Rigorous research has been conducted into it for over 20 years now, and examples of such fibers have actually already been developed.
――"Auxetic Fiber" is such a cool name!
However, when you stretch the fiber, its volume increases, resulting in a density decrease and causing the fiber itself to begin letting light through. In other words, it too may end up becoming see-through. To combat that, it's possible to create a fiber structure with meshes just slightly larger than the wavelength of light (~0.5 microns), which results in the light being scattered and the material retaining its opacity.
――Things are getting a little bit complicated, but if we can keep it opaque, is our battle armor finally ready for action?
Well, we can make it opaque, but it still has the issue that when it gets wet, water will enter the meshes and turn it see-through.
――With Planet Namek having so much water, any fight there would have our battle armor turning see-through in the blink of an eye!
――Making battle armor that doesn't end up turning see-through is super challenging!
In the end, our best bet might be to give up on weaving and knitting altogether. Instead, we could consider taking a highly elastic material like polyurethane and turning it into a jelly-like film via a process of melting and stretching, then making our battle armor with that.
In the field, we refer to jelly-like materials as "gels", and research into them is being conducted at several research facilities. The finished film possesses elasticity equal to the original polyurethane fiber and can be used in the same ways.
――Battle armor made from a jelly-like substance! With no weaving or knitting involved, we won't have to worry about it turning see-through.
Making clothing from gels brings us to another problem. Unlike material woven or knitted from fibers, gels and film have no meshes, so sweat and heat have no way of escaping.
Since that's definitely not ideal for combat, we'd have to either open up micron-sized holes in the film's surface or give it the ability to absorb sweat and release it outwards, a bit like actual jelly.
――What's the closest material we have to Vegeta's battle armor today?
In 2001, the creation of an entirely new material, "polyrotaxane", was announced. It's been proven that, if you use polyrotaxane molecules, you can take a fiber with a notably strecheable elasticity, that is, 5 times higher than that of almost unstrecheable cotton fibers.(*1)
On top of that, research has shown that the more polyrotaxane stretches, the stronger it becomes. (*2) What I'm getting at is that, if we create a hybrid-fiber with the polyurethane fiber that we spoke about last time and polyrotaxane, we may well be able to create the ultimate battle armor—battle armor that gets more and more durable as it stretches and simply never rips or tears.
――That's amazing! In addition to the elasticity and strength, is it also possible to make it so that it doesn't wear the user out after being worn for long periods and to stop it from stinking of sweat?!
There are countless clothes already in existence made with advanced fibers that are stretchable, have anti-bacterial properties, don't put the user under unnecessary stress even after being worn for long periods of time, are dirt resistant, and so on. But if you're looking for a fiber or material that surpasses all others...
...we could turn to nanotechnology. If we succeeded in creating a fish scale-like structure by layering pieces less than 1 micron in size (nano size), we could create armor that is highly elastic and breathable while also having high defensive capabilities. Despite looking like completely normal material, it would be highly elastic and resilient to attacks.
Alternatively, we could use a liquid polymer—similar to the liquid metal that featured in the movie "Terminator 2"—to make clothing. With that, we may even be able to create the clothing via a spray by attaching a 3D printer to a drone.
However, if we use a liquid substance, then the shape of the user's body will be clearly visible, so if you're a middle-aged man with a slight belly, it'll be on display for the world to see, which might be a touch embarrassing... But with Vegeta's chiseled physique, I'm guessing that wouldn't be a problem!
――Being able to spray clothing into existence sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie! If we could make it for real, I'd definitely want to try it.
We talked earlier about Auxetic, but we can actually produce materials that have such properties using 3D printers. Using 3D printers could theoretically open up avenues to creating entirely new and unique clothing, including the likes of liquid metal and liquid polymer attire. A wide range of research is ongoing, so the day when we can finally produce clothing that won't rip or tear even after transforming into a Great Ape may not be too far off.
(*1) Araki, J. et al. Polymer 2006, 47, 8241–8246.
(*2) Liu, C. et al. Science 2021, 372, 1078–1081.
Jun Araki (Professor at Faculty of Textile Science and Technology, Shinshu University. Area(s) of Research: Polymer Science and Natural Polysaccharides)
Takeshi Kikutani (Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Former President of the Society of Fiber Science and Technology, Japan. Area(s) of Research: Engineering of Fiber Spinning, Structure and Physical Properties of Fibers)
Wataru Takarada (Assistant Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology. Area(s) of Research: Polymer Processing)
Go Matsuba (Professor at Yamagata University. Area(s) of Research: Structure and Physical Properties of Polymers)
Hitomi Hamada (Professor at Tokyo Kasei University. Area(s) of Research: Clothing Materials Science)
Masayuki Takatera (Professor at Faculty of Textile Science and Technology, Shinshu University. Area(s) of Research: Textile Engineering, Clothing Engineering)
Hiroyuki Kanai: (Associate Professor at Faculty of Textile Science and Technology, Shinshu University. Area(s) of Research: Kansei Informatics)
Horiba Yosuke (Associate Professorat Faculty of Textile Science and Technology, Shinshu University. Area(s) of Research: Kansei Engineering, Clothing Studies)
LEGENDS LIMITED Vegeta rampages into the fray in the app game "Dragon Ball Legends"!!
Don't miss LEGENDS LIMITED Vegeta's LEGENDARY FINISH, which sees the mighty Saiyan transform into a terrifying Great Ape with an earth-shatteringly cool finisher animation!
Available 9/15/2021 15:00 ～ 10/26/2021 15:00 (JST)
Check here for more details!
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