Latest In Defence — D3O smart materials for military impact protection

Latest In Defence visits D3O’s laboratory headquarters in Brighton to investigate how the company develops military armour products using its patented gooey orange smart material. Not only does it make helmets and body armour more effective and comfortable for soldiers, but it could also reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI).


D3O's orange goo is a dilatant fluid, which means its viscosity increases with the rate of shear strain. In its regular state it is a very thick liquid, when moved slowly, the molecules slide across each other freel. However, under strain, the molecules lock together and it acts more similar to a solid. This is known as non-Newtonian behaviour, and it dissipates the impact energy and reduces the force transmitted to the body.

Born out of the 2006 Winter Olympics, when the material was first used to create impact protection for the US and Canadian Olympic ski teams, D3O now specialises in products for the military.

In this edition of Latest In Defence, D3O's process development manager Chris Meadows demonstrates how the company's new two-storey helmet drop-test rig is used to test products. Military product engineer James Fyfe then explains what makes a new helmet liner the company will introduce at the Eurosatory defence fair so groundbreaking.