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How it works D3O armor

Updated on February 12, 2015

Why is it so special?

What's the secret behind D3O?

Wikipedia says that D3O is dilatants non-Newtonian fluid. What does it mean? Although it sounds very scientific, we are currently using this type of materials. What about shampoo or toothpaste? Even ketchup and blood are non-Newtonian fluids.

In order to understand what the secret behind D3O is, let's find out what is a Newtonian fluid. Let's imagine some flowing oil. This oil has a viscosity and over it acts the gravitation force, causing a viscous stress. The last term changes the oil's deformation over time. In this case, the viscous stress is linearly proportional with the deformation's change, so the oil is Newtonian fluid. So, the non-Newtonian fluid is the material which doesn't respect this condition.

Newtonian vs. non-Newtonian fluids

The graphic difference between Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids
The graphic difference between Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids | Source

How D3O works?

We stated the fact that D3O is a non-Newtonian fluid. It's time to understand how it works. The main principle is simple. When moved gently and slowly, the material flows. But, if it's about a shock, quickly, the molecules lock together. The aim is to absorb and dissipate the shock's energy. Let's make an analogy with the interaction between you and another human being. If you say "May you open the window, please?” probably that person will open it. But, if you scream "OPEN THAT WINDOW RIGHT NOW!” nobody will listen to you. Your roar is the shock and the "please" word is the gently moving.

How much does D3O protects you?

Some data about impact protection, density etc
Some data about impact protection, density etc | Source

What is the D3O name's origin?

According to, the origin of D3O is partially a mystery. The manufacture says only "No comment", but there are already 2 legends. One of them tells that D3O is the room's name where the material was invented. Another one says that it's about the secret chemical compound.

Did you know that even D3O has a history?

It was invented by Richard Palmer, a British engineer, in 1999, at the University of Hertfordshire. The inventor found the "D3O Lab" to develop and market it. The material has such a great proprieties than the UK Ministry of Defense awarded the lab with 100,000 £ in order to use it for anti-bullet helmets.

D3O armor

Here is how it looks a D3O armor
Here is how it looks a D3O armor | Source

How should you take care of it?

D3O is something new and sounds pretty good. A flexible material which strengthens because of a shock is definitely protecting more than a normal one. But it has disadvantages, too. One of them is the special care that you need to offer.

For example, you have to store it into a ventilated and dry place, out of sunlight. You shouldn't store it under heavy objects or in extreme temperatures. Also, you shouldn't fold it.

What if it started raining before arriving at home? Well, you first have to dry the protection and only after that to store it, but you're not allowed to use hair dryers or other heaters. You just need the same ventilated, dry space.

Fortunately, the D3O can be cleaned only with a damp cloth, without any detergent.

The last rule: do not modify any part of the product.

Manufacturer's personal note

Please, always remember this:

No personal protection equipment can offer complete protection against all injuries. The user hereby agrees to absolve the manufacturer of all liability in respect of any personal injury.

In which products do you find it?

There are many equipment manufacturers which choose to use D3O as protections. One of them is Richa, which uses the limb and back protectors. Another one is ICON. It integrated this material into all the jackets, pants, gloves and footwear. Furygan, a French brand, likes the D3O for the limb protectors. Belstaff, a luxurious brand, uses it in the Pure Motorcycle Collection.

These are not the only ones. D3O was adopted by Tucano Urbano and Klim, too. Held, a family-run business is also a fan of it. Hyod proved that this material is suited for racers, too. For example, Ryuichi Kiyonari wore equipment with D3O when won several championships. The last, but not the worst, Rukka used this material in order to create an improved one.

Other applications

D3O is not used only in motorcycle industry. Every field that needs something anti-shock is happy to try it. Until now, the applications are in sports, footwear, electronics, industry, medicine, and defense and law enforcement.

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