4 Extreme Material-Testing Labs
popsci.com - 10/10/2012
Side-impact crashes account for only 25 percent of car collisions involving children, but they inflict a disproportionately high number of injuries upon kids in car seats. To better understand how a seat’s foam padding affects the occupant, the Dorel Juvenile Group, a company that specializes in car seats and strollers, designed a crash test specifically for side impacts.
At its Technical Center for Child Safety in Columbus, Indiana, an 80-foot-long air-powered sled accelerates car seats, padded with experimental foam cushioning, to speeds between 15 and 25 miles per hour, and hurls them sideways against a mock version of an oncoming car. When the company experimented with a new shock-absorbing foam, says Dorel design engineer Dave Amirault, the tests revealed that denser foam transferred too much force to the occupant too quickly, as did a foam with excess porosity. Through repeated crashes, the designers settled on an ideal density, and they have since incorporated the foam, G-Cell HX, into one of Dorel’s infant car seats.