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3D-Printed Foam Could Boost Helmet Protection


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In laboratory tests, this new design for padding outperformed more conventional technologies.

Credit: Lawrence Smith

Using AI algorithms, researchers at the University of Colorado of Boulder (UC Boulder) and Sandia National Laboratories developed a 3D-printable foam that eventually could be used in bike helmets, shipping crates, and football pads.

While traditional foams compress into hard shapes when force is applied, the AI-designed foam, featuring honeycomb networks and slight bends, exhibits controlled buckling patterns.

Compared to standard foams, the 3D-printed blocks absorb about six times more energy.

They also absorb up to 25% more energy than other foams with honeycomb designs.

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