U.S. Army using 3D printing to create safer helmets

Using 3D printing technology, ARL researchers are developing the skull simulant using synthetic materials. Researchers have used images from a CT scan to get the geometry and structure of the skull right, and will use these images and 3D printing technology to produce models of bone-like surrogates which will be used to test new helmet padding materials in simulated blast and impact conditions.

U.S. Army helmets provide the best known defense against ballistic weapons but no one knows how well they can stand up against combat’s shock waves. Army Research Laboratory scientists are using different approaches to study the impact of shock waves inside, on and outside of the skull, and one of them is 3D printing.

In a battlefield, high-order explosive such as C4 or TNT produces overpressure shockwaves and can cause significant brain injuries. To discover how, and to what degree, these waves cause brain damage, and what’s needed to make Army helmets go beyond protecting the head to protecting the brain, ARL researchers are creating synthetic cranial bones that look and behave like the skulls of 20- and 30- year old Soldiers. These synthetic cranial bones will be tested in laboratory experiments that mimic combat-like blast events to develop new prototype of military helmet pads, shells, and other protective equipment.

More information on this latest development, can be found here.