How the mantis shrimp’s powerful punch inspired stronger materials

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Helicoid Industries makes lighter, stronger, and more impact resistant composites by applying the same internal architecture found in the mantis shrimp’s extremely durable club. Applying the Helicoid® technology reduces raw material use, while creating lighter, more energy efficient components, at an overall lower production cost.

To learn more about Helicoid Industries, visit:

Art and Animation by Jules Bartl
Produced and Narrated by Ed Prosser
With special thanks to support from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.

This little critter is the mantis shrimp! Perhaps better known as the “smasher” shrimp due to its powerful front clubs, which are used to obliterate its prey.

So how could this little shrimp help us design stronger and lightweight materials?

A decade ago scientists began to unravel the mystery of the shrimp’s success. They discovered that the chitin material that makes up the clubs was arranged internally in a spiral-like structure, known as a helicoid.

This is a fantastic shock-absorbing structure, formed from sheets of parallel fibres which are stacked and rotated, allowing it to dissipate energy efficiently.

And now, by reverse engineering this natural architecture, the company Helicoid Industries have been able to incorporate it into modern designs of composite materials. The benefit of using helicoids is that they have a very small surface area and are formed from far less material than a solid.

By using them in composites Helicoid Industries can massively reduce the amount of raw materials used in production, making them lighter and with a smaller environmental footprint - all without sacrificing strength.
Their plan is to incorporate these natural structures into materials used to build wind turbines, cars, sporting goods and eventually into aeroplanes.

These enhanced designs would allow for more fuel-efficient vehicles as well as allowing for longer and stronger turbine blades, increasing their energy output.

Not bad for a little shrimp.
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1. Name the shock-absorbing structure, formed from sheets of parallel fibres.