This physics-de­fy­ing body ar­mor from D3O and Klim starts as “or­ange goo”

Cycle World - - Contents -

DD3O re­ally does call the base ma­te­rial used in its ar­mor “or­ange goo,” but that’s mostly be­cause those of us who are not sci­en­tists or engi­neers glaze over when we hear “di­la­tants are a non-new­to­nian fluid.”

But D3O (pro­nounced dee-three-oh) works the way it does be­cause this liq­uid goo in­creases in vis­cos­ity when shear is ap­plied, con­trary to ideas pre­sented by Sir Isaac (also English, like D3O the com­pany) in, what else, but the no­tion of New­to­nian fluid. Eyes glazed yet?

Goo’s magic qual­ity is that when it gets hit, it sort of “locks up” and ab­sorbs the im­pact. Those sci­en­tists will wince at “locks up,” but this is how most of us would un­der­stand the ma­te­rial’s be­hav­ior. D3O’S se­cret to suc­cess with the base or­ange-goo di­la­tant is in find­ing ways to com­bine it with other poly­mers and de­liver it in forms used by many dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers that re­quire shock-ab­sorb­ing qual­i­ties in their prod­ucts: phone cases, work gloves, kneepads, and shoe in­serts. And, as they say, more.

De­sign and de­vel­op­ment takes place in D3O Labs’ South Lon­don head­quar­ters. In one room, a CNC ma­chine with a fine milling tool carves out molds so the lab can pour dif­fer­ent test forms. In an­other room is test equip­ment for CE cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, in­clud­ing head forms

with sen­sors (mil­i­tary and sports hel­mets) and a most won­der­fully com­plex im­pact tester that drops machined forms on pads placed over anvils. There are ways to make the gear hot, cold, and wet to en­sure it meets cer­ti­fi­ca­tions in the re­quired en­vi­ron­ment.

We are most in­ter­ested in the Ce-cer­ti­fied mo­tor­cy­cle ar­mor. Goo is com­bined with what D3O calls set foam. The ar­mor is made by injecting the liq­uid recipe into a mold, where it ex­pands (es­sen­tially foams up) to form the parts you see here. One of D3O’S Amer­i­can part­ners is Klim, and this part­ner­ship re­sulted in joint-spe­cific ar­mor for shoul­ders, knees, and el­bows de­signed to ex­pand the area of pro­tec­tion and in­crease breatha­bil­ity. This Klim Aero Pro D3O ar­mor was in­tro­duced in the 2018 Bad­lands Pro jacket and pants.

The qual­i­ties of D3O al­low the ar­mor to be thin­ner than many other types of pro­tec­tion, and also more flex­i­ble when not under im­pact’s duress. In the older Klim Bad­lands Pro jacket and pants I’ve used for ad­ven­ture rid­ing the past few years, my only com­plaint was that ar­eas of my body that the ar­mor cov­ered were hot, and air­flow in other parts of the suit was bet­ter. These pads are claimed to im­prove breatha­bil­ity five­fold while of­fer­ing 44 per­cent more cov­er­age.

The best mo­tor­cy­cle gear sort of dis­ap­pears when you’re wear­ing it, al­low­ing a rider the great­est mo­bil­ity while wait­ing to do its pro­tec­tive job. Or­ange goo goes a long way to­ward achiev­ing this kind of bal­ance.

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