Additive Manufacturing and Mechanical Characterization of PLA-Based Skull Surrogates Articles uri icon

publication date

  • December 2022


  • 1


  • 15

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2073-4360


  • Several occupational and leisure activities involve a high risk of head impacts, resulting in varying degrees of injuries with chronic consequences that adversely affect life quality. The design and manufacturing of effective head protections rely on proper head simulators to mimic the behavior to impact loading. 3D-printed human skulls are reported herein to address the need for reproducible, cost-effective, anatomically-correct surrogates. To demonstrate the viability of the investigated approach, surrogate bone sections and skulls were mechanically tested under quasi-static loading conditions. The 3D-printed bone sections were flexural tested, elucidating the effect of printing orientations and the sample geometry on their mechanical behavior. The printing orientation minimally influenced the results due to the high infill percentage, while the sample geometry played a major role in the flexural properties because of the change in the section properties. The surrogate skulls were submitted to lateral compression and frontal penetration tests to assess the impact of the sectioning strategy on the overall mechanical performance. Results indicate that PLA-based surrogates reasonably reproduce the behavior of skulls. In addition, the sectioning strategy elucidated the effect of skull sutures, while streamlining the additive manufacturing process. The outcomes lay the foundation for future research seeking a complete surrogate head.


  • head impact; surrogate; polymer 3d-printing; pla