Designing Shock Absorbing Composites by Impregnating Woven Fabrics with Shear Thickening Fluids
Journal of student research
Millions of sports and recreation-related injuries occur each year. Different shock-absorbing solutions, such as polyethylene and polyurethane foams, are used in helmets and protective equipment, but one area most sports-gear manufacturers have not explored is the usage of shear thickening fluids (STFs). An STF is a material that is soft under normal conditions but acts rigid when stressed or pressured. STF composites were fabricated and tested with the goal of exploring their viability for use
... in shock-absorption applications, especially for sports. The role of fabric- and particle-type, particle-to-carrier fluid ratios, nano-particle additives, and the thickness of the composite were studied, and were all hypothesized to have an effect on the impact-resistance of the fabricated STF-composites. Drop-tests were conducted by releasing a 1.1-lb. weight from an electromagnet onto the composites. An impact-force sensor was placed underneath. The weight and height of the drop were chosen to simulate the hardest recorded NFL hit. All hypothesized factors were found to affect impact resistance. The combination of nylon-fabric impregnated by an STF mix of propylene-glycol and silica-nanoparticles, with a cerium-oxide nano-particle additive, displayed better shock-absorption behavior than other fabricated composites. All of the STF-composites also outperformed tested commercial shock-absorption materials despite being thinner and more flexible. These results demonstrate the potential of using STF-impregnated textile fabrics for protective composites for sportswear, as well as for non-sport shock-absorption applications, like in military vests and helmets, and aerospace applications. Further research is necessary to work towards a final product which can be used.