Design Engineering
Showcase 2020


Natalie Kerres
Global Innovation Design
Dr Connor Myant
This is Going to Help

How might we prevent injuries in the first place for healthy aging?

Current supportive and protective gear have the downside of motion restriction and constant support which is reducing muscle strength in areas most needed. This project strives for improvement in the areas of protective wearables, rehabilitation and sports performance.

SCALED aims to investigate the potential of a controlled motion-limiting structure to prevent particularly hyperextension joint injuries. Prior research describes the downsides of nature-inspired scale structures, as mobility is commonly a trade-off with protection. SCALED investigates the possibility to regulate this restriction in motion and thereby ultimately prevents hyperextension joint injuries. The project outlines the problems associated with human joint injuries and presents an original contribution to solving these problems with parametric design and biomimicry. Therefore, SCALED demonstrates the potential of parametric design by imitating nature’s evolutionary process of adapting to an individual’s needs for survival.


Firstly, the complex problem of injuries was analysed: how and why do they happen? A distinction between impact and repetitive stress injuries was identified. In addition, opportunities of intervention were analysed to engage in the process of an accident, which is ultimately causing injuries. SCALED is developed by research through design practise. Especially the technology of additive manufacturing (3D printing) was used to develop working prototypes to communicate the core vision of the project properly. Through many iterations and experiments a unique manufacturing process for mass-customization was developed to proof the hypothesis of regulating the motion limitation of a scale structure. The exceptional combination of the used materials and the algorithm allows SCALED to distribute applied forces along the whole structure and work against produced tension. SCALED is directly applied to the skin with the help of an adhesive and moreover can be attached to protective wearables in form of sleeves.


The outcome of this project is a method to produce a series of mass-customized and interlocking protective scales for controlled motion limitation. The developed algorithm designs customized responsive scale structures to set parameters. It indicates that the objective of this research can be met and demonstrates that this scale structure’s range of motion can be controlled. In conversation with experts from physiotherapy, orthopaedics, trauma surgery, sports medicine, bioengineering and mechanical engineering, this technology enables controlled body movement with a passively activated mechanical structure. A main benefit is a solely mechanical structure, without electronic components and the related deficits. The undertaken consultations revealed that the first application is the wrist and would allow for the prevention of hyperextension injuries like the Colles fracture (a type of radius fracture), which is a frequent injury resulting from any fall. Further application areas are sports performance enhancement, protection and enabling a shorter and more successful rehabilitation process.

SCALED received funding and is going to be further developed for series production.

Parametric design for mass-customization to meet the user's needs.


Congratulations Natalie ! Your project sounds really promising and compelling , i wish you all the best in making it a reality, people will need it!

Joe Tan

Congratulations! Amazing work and look forward to see the Innovations out for the world to use! Good luck.

Vali Lalioti

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