Researchers at Rice University are studying 3D printing plastic structures that mimic tubulanes — theoretical nanotube structures predicted to have extraordinary strength. The result has been very strong and very compressible structures that can actually resist bullets.
As an experiment, the researchers fired projectiles at 5.8 km/s at a block of plastic and at a block of simulated tubulanes. The structure of the tubulane block stopped the bullet at the second layer with no significant structural damage beyond the second layer. The reference block had a large hole and cracks throughout its volume.