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Humanetics 3D Prints “Elderly” Crash Test Dummy

TCT Magazine reports on a recent breakthrough made by crash test dummy manufacturer Humanetics.  Humanetics has 3D printed an “elderly” crash test dummy.

“Humanetics serves 100% of the OEMS and Tier I safety suppliers worldwide with anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs) for testing the safety of automobiles.”  In order for these crash test dummies to be a successful tool in ensuring the safety of automobiles, they must be “designed to reflect the injuries, which occur in real accidents.”  Due to this requirement, it is very helpful to create dummies in every shape, age, and size.

Now, with the help of 3D printing, Humanetics has been able to “create the first elderly crash test dummy” using additive manufactured “internal parts used to replace expensive steel components.”  1 in every 5 drivers in the United States is now elderly, and are therefore “more likely to sustain internal injuries when crashing, because their bones are more fragile and soft tissues less robust.”

As Humanetics’ Chief Technical Officer Mike Beebe explains, due to the specific needs of elderly crash test dummies, he turned to 3D printing: “it’s my job to look at the future.  I’ve been in the ATD business for 38 years and I’m always trying to figure out what new processes and materials we should develop going forward. One of the major discoveries we’ve made recently was that we could 3D print much of the elderly dummy. Now all of the components of the new elderly dummy, from the pelvis to the head assembly, are additively manufactured.”

The team also used “Markforged’s Onyx, a carbon-composite material reinforced with continuous Kevlar fibers.  A complete set of ribs was put to test on an elderly dummy and underwent 60-70 impacts with no visible deformation or damage.”  These specially 3D printed ribs have yet to be broken.

Following these tests, Humanetics has “purchased its own Markforged Mark Two 3D printer, to make ribs and other skeleton components…[and] while Humanetics is seeing Onyx material cost similar to those of the previous steel, the team can print a single rib in twenty-four hours and a full set in a week compared to the two to three weeks with traditional manufacturing.”  3D printing can also improve quality and save between 40-60% in assembly and labor costs.

Humanetics is now eyeing the possibility of 3D printed organs for these crash test dummies.  As Beebe explains: “the ability to generate new organs using 3D printing technology will lead to shorter lead times, improved restraint systems, and safer vehicles.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of TCT Magazine

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