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Investigating direct impact.

Design probelm: Multi-part shin guards. Importance: Eliminating extraneous components reduces fuss and injury.

Objectives: reduce rigidity.

reduce bulk.

prevent injury. simplify the game. Approach: explore & examine how nature protects sensitive/important areas with external armour.

Biological Influences

experiments: #1 #2 #3

Western European Hedgehog

Dragonfly Giant Green Anemone


#4 #5

Apply a gel (Elmer’s glue, borax, and water) in a layered fashion. Measure shock absorption and compare against market product. Intergrate the gel (flubber) into a flexible armature using drinking straws as framework. Create a sample of closely spaced rigid spines at roughly 300 spines/sq in. on 1/4” neoprene. Test the ability to absorb shock by measuring the number of punctures for a given force. Begin with 3/4” spines. Reduce the length of the spines while trying to achieve maximum density using 3/16” staples and 1/4” neoprene base. Repeat steps 3 & 4 in combination with SuperFabric to prevent tearing and puncture.

After exploring two very different methods of shock absorbtion the creative power of nature has been verified. When using gel as the primary material the benefits were clearly in its ability to self-anneal. Unlike fabrics and plastics the amorphous form offers a unique meaning to term ‘durability’. By healing itself immediately after impact, the substance can restore its ability to resist additional impact even after a collision. The drawbacks result from its reluctant nature to maintain its desired form. As a result the gel was given a semi-rigid armature to help keep its shape. Looking into the design of the hedgehog offered a very different approach and different lessons to be learned. Unfortunately there was a struggle to achieve the appropriate density combined with the proper length of spine. The longer spines showed potential in their ability to flex upon impact and work collectively, but the length halted viability. On the other hand, much shorter spines (staples) proved too rigid and difficult to create high density. One additional design element that became apparent was that of the spine tip. For these experiments, spines with very fine tips were used which did not help maximize the collective surface area. The next steps in the investigation are to target the manufacturing of the spines. These include using spines with a soft core and tough, yet flexible shell much like the apporach for the gel. Creating tips that take a form similar to a lilypad and less like a pine needle are also expected to improve results.

On the market

There is a very high level of research in the field of ‘impact absorption’ within athletic equipement. The most advanced are foambased or rigid plastics often based on a tesselated hexagonal pattern.

D3o Deflexion by DOW

Product Development  

This is a conceptual approach to developing a product through a biomimetic lens.

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