Extreme Conditions Suit - Poron XRD Materials Exploration
Smart Matter – Spring 2018
This project was a materials exploration in collaboration with Rogers Corporation, and we were given the opportunity to explore a material they produce called Poron XRD, which is an extreme impact resistant foam. Even though the foam is a leading brand in impact resistance, I was particularly interested in the problems that the Poron XRD foam had. This resulted in an experimental protective suit for extreme conditions
Problems To Tackle
Ineffective when wet. This material only works when dry.
Lots of waste is created during the manufacturing process. Liquid foam will clog the machine by curing inside if machine is turned off, so in order to change the density that is being manufactured, the solution for the new density is poured into the machine when needed. This results in a stretch of unsellable foam due to its mixed densities. This material is also not recyclable.
I wanted to make this material recyclable and also usable in wet conditions. After making multiple explorations with the foam, the one I thought was the most interesting was the way I sewed chopped up pieces of the foam into a netting, creating a breathable yet still impact resistant cushion. I realized that by adding a waterproof material on top, the cushion could potentially be used in wet conditions.
This lead me to think about situations where impact and water resistance is important. I thought back to how earlier that year, I had fractured a couple ribs from slipping on a patch of ice when skiing, but if I had this material as a padding, it could have potentially prevented the injuries that happened.
Most Vulnerable Points on Human Body
The highest density foam was placed in the most vulnerable parts of the body
Learning Outcomes and Future Explorations
Even though the foam is lightweight, the suit ended up being extremely heavy due to the amount of foam that was added to it
Mobility of user is limited due to too much padding in highly active areas
Needs more exploration in a more lightweight, breathable, and waterproof performance material for the outer shell