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Application of Auxetic Foam in Sports Helmets

Foster, L and Peketi, P and Allen, TB and Senior, T and Duncan, O and Alderson, A (2018) Application of Auxetic Foam in Sports Helmets. Applied Sciences, 8 (3). ISSN 2076-3417

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Abstract

This investigation explored the viability of using open cell polyurethane auxetic foams to augment the conformable layer in a sports helmet and improve its linear impact acceleration attenuation. Foam types were compared by examining the impact severity on an instrumented anthropomorphic headform within a helmet consisting of three layers: a rigid shell, a stiff closed cell foam, and an open cell foam as a conformable layer. Auxetic and conventional foams were interchanged to act as the helmet’s conformable component. Attenuation of linear acceleration was examined by dropping the combined helmet and headform on the front and the side. The helmet with auxetic foam reduced peak linear accelerations (p < 0.05) relative to its conventional counterpart at the highest impact energy in both orientations. Gadd Severity Index reduced by 11% for frontal impacts (38.9 J) and 44% for side impacts (24.3 J). The conformable layer within a helmet can influence the overall impact attenuating properties. The helmet fitted with auxetic foam can attenuate impact severity more than when fitted with conventional foam, and warrants further investigation for its potential to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries in sport specific impacts.

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