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Triangular Cylindrical Origami (TCO) is a metamaterial that is able to turn a compression wave into a tension wave. This cancels out the force of an impact, but does nothing for the momentum.

Assuming it could be scaled up and down, this could revolutionize many fields like highly durable rocket leg springs and armor (can't rely on blunt force to get through unpenetrated armor).

What I'm wondering is:

How well this metamaterial would do in recoil mitigation?

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None globally

...At least, none compared to other recoil mitigation techniques. It can be part of a recoil absorber, but it will not do anything greatly different, in extent or effect, from alternate recoil absorbers.

Recoil comes from momentum, but impacts the shooter as force. Heavy weapons have appropriate counter-recoil mechanisms, which involve pushing a large counterweight (almost always the barrel, sometimes the whole gun) back, then releasing it slowly. There are no other means of absorbing recoil within Newtonian physics.

What the video is talking about can be considered a suspension spring with non-linear behavior. The push is not going anywhere, it's still happening. Conservation of momentum.

Some locally

A lot of context has been lost in the conversion of the original research into a 2-minute video an an equally brief text. What's unusual about this spring is that much of the spring's material is loaded in tension, as opposed to torsion or compression. This can allow materials with low stiffness to be used for impact absorption.

A non-linear spring can be useful, including in a recoil absorber. It could result in a lower peak force than a linear spring. It could result in an effective recoil absorber at less weight. This will depend on the exact properties of the structure.

As an aside, the term "metamaterial" is usually reserved for microscopic structures with unusual electromagnetic properties. This is a complicated truss. It's not clear if it will perform better than existing systems; it might, it might not.

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I don't think it would be a good recoil mitigation, because it would turn the "push" of the impact into a "pull".

Now, if a rifle recoiling on my shoulder might hurt when not braced properly, the same pull on my shoulder could be even worse:

  • I can learn forward to balance the recoil, I should lean backward to balance the pull, messing up my balance and aim. Firing while behind a cover might become too risky (being pulled on the wall behind which I am covering)
  • a poorly handled pull might result in an additional action on the trigger
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  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer make sense, conservation of momentum wise? If the bullet flies forward, you fly back. I think how it works is that you feel a pull first, then a push. $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    Dec 20, 2023 at 16:21
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For Small Arms?

Terrible

Why? Looking at the video - When the impact force is imparted - what do you notice? That's right, there is a torque being applied to the object... and that Torque is not consistent in a singular direction - that movement back-and-forth is going to make follow-up shots a PITA, because instead of having to worry about a single back/up motion over a short period, you have to worry about a rotational motion that is constantly changing

Add to that, a pulling motion would make getting a good Cheek/Shoulder weld (which is key for accurate shooting) much more difficult.

But, for mounted weapon-systems (Anything big enough to go on a Tripod) - where you could have a guide to cancel out the rotational torque forces - this could be a good idea...

However, for such systems, we already have recoil compensation systems - normally in the form of big-ass springs (think the Oerlikon) to Hydraulic systems (Cannons/Artillery) - Potentially this could have a weight advantage over a hydraulic system and it would make maintenance potentially less-messy (swap out one set with another when it gets worn, instead of having to drain the hydraulic fluid etc.

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