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Edera Safety

REVOLUTIONIZING BACK PROTECTION USING
GENERATIVE DESIGN

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Image courtesy of Edera Safety

Using data-driven design, Edera Safety has created a revolutionary new back protection system for athletes.

Over-rotation of the spine is proven to be the major cause of spinal fractures, spinal cord injuries, and paraplegia - but most back protectors are designed to guard against only direct impacts. The Austrian design studio Edera Safety is working to change that.

Using generative design technology, adamsfour. - an in-house brand at Edera Safety - has developed a Rotational Spine Protection (RSP) system to help prevent spinal rotational injuries.

Over-rotation of the spine is the major cause of spinal fractures

Hundreds of thousands of people suffer annually from spinal cord injuries due to sports, traffic and work-related accidents. While over-rotation of the spine is proven to be the major cause of spinal fractures, spinal cord injuries, and paraplegia, most back protectors are designed to protect only against direct impacts.

Generative design was a key element in designing a new back protection system. Courtesy of Edera Safety

“It’s a biomechanical injury,” says Thomas Saier, CEO of Edera Safety. “The natural range of motion is overaccentuated. Injuries happen when the rotational force to your spinal cord, which is centered in the middle of your spine, is getting torn or sheared apart.”

adamsfour. has created a protection system that impedes rotation after a specific range to prevent spinal rotational injuries. In order to develop a solution, the adamsfour. team had to start from scratch. Rotational dummies and biotechnical data didn’t exist so they generated kinematic data at an institute of anatomical studies. 

Feeding generative design with real-time data
is shaping the design process

A critical discovery was the spine’s natural limits with two types of movement: one managed by the body’s musculature and one where connections between bones (including vertebrae) start to take on the load.

Feeding generative design with real-time data was a core element of the design process. Courtesy of Edera Safety

So the trick was not to restrict the active movement made by directing muscles, but to put the brakes on when the passive bone movement is too much. When the spine enters that critical phase, the RSP System absorbs the resulting force.

Filling the simulation with the real-time data, adamsfour developed a prototype. The team put it to work, integrating more sensors and an app to accurately measure and record all relevant forces and then feeding it into the generative-design algorithm.

New back protector is a result of combining generative design and the designer's intuitive know how

The next step was evaluating the geometries created by the generative design technology to find the best solution. “The results we got were a bit too extreme to be sold as a product,” says René Stiegler adamsfour’s resident sportsman and designer. “For usability issues, you have to reduce it into something people actually want to wear.”

New generative design back protection system created in Fusion 360. Courtesy of Edera Safety

“Depending on the constraints, you get a lot of structural proposals out of it,” Saier says. “Generative design produced the key image, and the final product we’re using right now was driven by that geometry. You need to combine it with your intuitive know-how and the development skills of the design team to transfer it into a commercial product.”

This process allowed reducing the amount of material needed, based on the system’s calculations for where the lines of force and energy apply to the body. “Without it, we might have had more material, or it might have been heavier,” Stiegler says. “It basically gives us the answers about the amount of load we have to carry or how thick the material needs to be."

Generative design helped designing a revolutionizing
and award winning back protector

Using generative design technology, the team was able to come up with multiple design options to test prototypes at an early stage of development and create a component that could be easily implemented into the manufacturing process. When spinal rotation enters a critical stage, the implemented X straps on the Rotational Spine Protection system (RSP) begin to tighten and with the help of a specialized reversing mechanism, found at the waist, rotational energy is redirected and absorbed to protect the user from potential injury.

In 2019, the revolutionizing RSP system was recognized as an ISPO Brandnew Award finalist, a designation reserved for the most promising newcomers of the sports gear industry.

adamsfour won't distribute the RSP system on their own. It is a business-to-business technology—they will sell it as a kit to other manufacturers to be incorporated into their own products.

 

The structure that was produced using generative design technology was used as an underlay for us to create a better, more efficient back protector. In the future, we plan to use generative design as a constant tool in order to improve our products.

Thomas Saier, Founder/CEO, Edera Safety

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