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3D Printed Skulls Take One For the Troops
Posted by 3DP4E

By 3DP4E

It goes without saying, but war is dangerous, bombs especially. Aside from the shrapnel, heat, and destruction to surroundings, a huge part of the harm caused by explosions is the result of the sudden change in air pressure and following shockwaves that can go through a soldier's helmet and cause brain damage or even death.

As one of the most significant risks faced by soldiers, the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has begun 3D printing human skull models in order to study the effects of these shockwaves on the skull and surrounding areas, including that all important brain. The ARL hopes to use this research in order to create better military protective gear.

The 3D Printed skulls offer many benefits over previously used methods of research, such as synthetic bone or donor skulls. Synthetic bone is designed for surgical practice, and not for impact recreations; while donor skulls come mostly from the sick or elderly, and do not accurately reflect those of soldiers in their prime.

The new 3D printed skulls simulate those of 20-30 year old soldiers, and are created specifically to allow for a consistent response to explosions. Every printed skull is also exactly the same to further reduce the number of varibles during testing. Comparison testing to actual skulls deter timed that the fracture patterns of the synthetic skulls were a close match, and they should begin production sometime this fall.


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