How did it come about that Fall-Safe® uses D3O?

The background to the development of D3O and its introduction as an impact-absorbing material was that Richard Palmer, its inventor and a keen sports fan, realized that it could have been used in ski suits for the American and Canadian ski teams in the Winter Winter Olympics in 2006. A particular problem exists for the Giant Slalom and Super G racers who try to go as close to the control gates as possible so as to shave tenths of a second from their time. Although the gates are spring loaded, hitting them at 60-70 mph creates severe bruising on the arms and legs, but since the amount of wind resistance is also critical, thick padding is out of the question. D3O, with its special properties of absorbing impact whilst being quite thin provided to be ideal and the so-called Spider suits of the North American teams incorporated D3O. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally those teams have also been highly successful, particularly at the last Winter Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver.

Many other winter sports applications followed, including hip protectors for snowboarders and even figure skaters, before the product was launched into the motorcycle apparel market with hip, shoulder, knee and elbow protectors incorporated into the specialized motorcycle suits. It became obvious that D3O would be a suitable partner as they had succeeded with products that protected similar body parts, ie hips, in extreme conditions. Their move into supplying the military and police in several countries meant that they were able to work with organizations with demanding standards and long lead times. It was there before a natural decision to use D3O in a parallel market – medical devices – that took advantage of the material's special properties to absorb impact in life-and-death applications.

What are the benefits of Fall-Safe?

The main benefit is that it will save you from breaking your hip because Fall-Safe has been tested in the most accurate simulation of an actual fall, using a special test rig, when the forces generated on the point of the hip can be around 3,500 Newtons, and it reduced them to just over 1,000 Newtons. The same tests showed that the best any other hip protector could do to reduce them to something over 1,700 Newtons, which can still break a hip if the person is osteoporotic and it will certainly cause such a bruising that the faller will be incapacitated for many days.

Because of the nature of the Fall-Safe hip protector it is very light, soft, flexible, cool thanks to its numerous vents and internal grooves, and so very comfortable to wear. Up to now, hip protectors have been rather rigid, bulky and clammy to wear, especially in hot weather, or in bed at night. Fall-Safe hip protectors are normally worn around the clock without discomfort, thereby providing complete protection. This can be very important because many falls occur at night thanks to slippery floors, dimmer lighting, unseen obstacles and general drowsiness.

Because Fall-Safe hip protectors are easily removed and inserted in another pair of pants, only one pair of hip protectors is needed per 4 sets of pants which dramatically reduces the initial cost compared with most hip protectors that are sewn-into the pants so can not be removed, making them harder and more expensive to wash, and requiring one pair of hip protectors for each of the four pairs of pants. Fall-Safe hip protectors can be washed hundreds of times and should last for three years. As they do not have to be thrown away when the pants are worn out, the cost of ownership is much less.