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New developments in flexible impact protection from d3o lab – the material with intelligent molecules


The latest designs to come out of the d3o products lab are smart, figure hugging components with a cleverly designed geometry following the natural curvature and contours of your body. The macro-densifying mechanism maximises contact and therefore minimises pressure transmitted during impact. Take the elbow component in the picture for example: the geometry is designed to open when the arm is flat, but when the arm is closed, the geometry is configured to provide maximum surface area and therefore maximum protection when and where you need it. d3o’s new product designer John Sudul, who is responsible for the designs, says, “d3o is one of those step change materials that is really inspiring to work with as a designer, because it means you have the chance to totally reinvent what went before.” d3o performs better than any impact protection material that currently exists and is light, flexible, breathable and washable.

Type 1 “standard” components can simply be swapped with existing versions of protective material in garments such as snow pants, cycling gloves, and various other applications in snow and water sports. Type 2 components are targeted for applications that require CE approval, such as motorbike jackets and some snow sports applications. The standard components are designed to be easily integrated into existing and new garments for numerous sporting activities.

d3o has also made other innovations in product design possible. For example, Ribcap, the Swiss company who produce flexible protective headgear, provides the perfect example of how an evolution in materials can inform a new design on a fundamental level creating an entirely new genus of product. d3o has enabled Ribcap to provide a solution for people who don’t want to just wear a warm hat, and equally don’t want or need the compromise of a hard helmet. The Ribcap was in development for 5 years, during which Jürg Ramseier (CEO) and his team were experimenting with other materials. When they found d3o there was a step change in the development – they had found something that really worked as soft and flexible impact protection. The totally unique properties of d3o have allowed Ribcap to create a totally new form of head gear - lightweight, flexible, physically unrestrictive to the wearer, but which also has excellent impact protection abilities.

d3o lab themselves have been working with a very talented young freestyle motocross rider to develop an impact protection system that can help him have more freedom of movement and control in his air acrobatics. Freestyle motocross, is a sport that demands both high levels of flexibility as well as protection. d3o excels over traditional protective equipment which considerably limits your movement, by being totally flexible, enabling you to be in tune with your body whilst maintaining the superior protection necessary in an extreme sport such as this. d3o fundamentally changes the impact protection design process as it provides qualities previously lacking in traditional materials, opening up a vast array of innovation opportunities.

All these bespoke developments are now possible as a result of the consolidation of the company’s operations in Hove meaning development can go from initial concept to final product all under one roof. As well as having developed standard products, d3o lab can also now provide bespoke solutions to impact protection problems where the customer works directly with d3o product designers to create a customised application of d3o technology in their product.

As part of this step up in operations, d3o has been building relationships with Universities specialising in certain areas of Chemistry and is looking to recruit specialists from these institutions in order to enhance their understanding of the technology and its as yet unknown future posibilites. d3o has also recently become a member of SATRA, the World’s leading research and technology organisation for consumer goods industries, best known in footwear. Being a member of SATRA benefits both d3o and the customer; SATRA guarantees products are ‘fit for purpose’, enables d3o to use their test and product reports that are accepted worldwide, ensures that products conform to a wide range of national, international and company standards, as well as accrediting the laboratory. d3o lab has also been granted a CASE (Co-operative Awards in Science and Engineering) studentship award by Cranfield University on behalf of the East of England Development Agency. This is to support a PhD studentship for 3.5 years.

Ruth Gough | alfa
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