How these 3D printed Cubes are 5 times more effective than hi-tech armor?

3D printed cubes for dissipating shockwaves

3D Printed Cubes of Plastic can Dissipate Shock more Effectively than their Solid Counterparts

3D printing is changing the face of many industries. With each passing day, its applications are growing across different industry segments. 

The defense is one such area where 3D printing is playing a crucial role in building products that are otherwise hard to build.

Tiny 3D printed Cubes of plastic, with intricate fractal voids built into them, have a surprising new potential to dissipate shock waves, potentially leading to new kinds of structural materials & lightweight armor effective against impacts and explosions.

The tiny cubes have proven to be effective at dissipating shockwaves five times more efficiently than the currently available solution.

Image Credit: ResearchGate

According to Dana Dattelbaum, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the objective behind the work is to manipulate the wave interactions that result from a shockwave.


Materials that disperse shockwaves taking advantage of voids have been developed in the past, but the distributions of voids in them are random and discovered through trial and error. 

Other solutions use layers to reverberate shock and release waves. By precisely controlling the location of holes in a material allows the researchers to design, model, and test structures that perform as desired in a repeatable way.

Tests Performed

An impactor was fired into the fractal structures at an approximate speed of 670 miles per hour. The structured cubes dissipated the shocks five times more effectively than solid cubes made from the same material.

Image Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory; Simulations of Energy Dissipation from shockwaves in structures with increasing complexity

Further Research

Although the fractal structure is effective, it’s unclear that it is the best shock-dissipating design. Investigations are being done by the researchers for other void or interface-based patterns to arrive at the ideal structures for dissipating shocks. New optimization algorithms will lead them to structures other than regular & repeating structures. 

Potential applications

These structures find their applications in:

  1. Providing structural support 
  2. Protective layers for helmets, vehicles, or other human-wearable protection.
  3. Protecting sophisticated electronics inside the cases.
  4. Areas that need shock dissipation

Also Read: Thermal Energy Storage using Simple & Scalable Solution

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