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A critical review of impact resistant materials used in sportswear clothing

Venkatraman, P and Tyler, DJ (2016) A critical review of impact resistant materials used in sportswear clothing. In: 7th International conference in Advances in Textiles, Machinery, Nonwovens and Technical Textiles (ATNT 2011).


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This paper highlights the significance of impact resistant materials which are incorporated in sportswear and functional outdoor applications. In recent years, there have been interesting explorations on a wide range of composite materials such as coir/EVA as nonwoven impact protectors, polypropylene and flax fibre laminate, cellular textile materials as sports protectors for helmets. 3D spacer fabrics were explored by Dow Corning on varying thicknesses and levels of protection. In addition materials such as, D3O and visco-elastic polymer dough were also reported to have potential in sportswear applications such as the market for knee pads. In addition, Dow Corning's helical auxetic system is made up of an inelastic fibre spirally wound around a thicker elastic fibre that expands to absorb the shock while the inelastic one limited the expansion. Some concerns noted by researchers are that it has limited applications and the benefits of the impact resistant materials should be evaluated using precise monitoring systems. In this context, the authors have critically evaluated the literature, explored the importance of such materials in the context of functional clothing used for sportswear, and reported their limitations and implications. The study also is informed by experimentation using a custom-built measurement device to precisely monitor the pressure profile of various materials. This device is modelled on some of the ISO test procedures for assessing impact protection. The pressure sensors are located below the sample material and forces transmitted through the material by an impactor are recorded in the form of a load-vs-time dataset. Quantitative comparisons of a range of commercial materials used for impact protection have been obtained.

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