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California University Scientists Develop Microlattice Pads for Football Helmets

Scientists at California University, Santa Barbara, HRL Laboratories, and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have created elastic micro lattice pads that can withstand single hits as well as a series of impacts better than current state-of-the-art foams utilized in football helmets. Their research, publishing November 27 in the journal Matter, means that the material might pave how for helmets that better shield football gamers and other athletes from brain injuries attributable to repeated head hits.

Helmets utilized in combat and American football need impact-absorbing supplies that shield against ongoing impacts. Still, it stays challenging to design materials that remain efficient over time without compromising on volume, mass, or cost. Though helmet foams have advanced in the past decades, enhancements have been comparatively marginal.

The photopolymer-based microlattice material shares a likeness to the Eiffel Tower’s famous wrought-iron design: it’s tough but allows air to pass by, a property that would keep athletes’ heads cooler than existing helmets. This structure also makes the fabric flexible, so engineers can easily tailor it to absorb different levels and types of shock by tweaking its parts.

In order to test how well three completely different variations of the microlattice material absorb impacts in comparison with conventional foams, the crew first used a double anvil fixture to copy the effects similar to those that would strike a pad situated inside a helmet, allowing them to measure the response of the fabric alone without accounting for the helmet’s form and other properties.

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