Torrance, CA, September 6, 2017
The NFL has announced that the team of Dynamic Research, Inc and 6D Helmets LLC has been named the Grand Prize winner of the Head Health Challenge III competition to develop advanced materials for impact mitigation. The DRI/6D team and four other competitors were selected from 125 applicants in December 2015 to receive Round One awards of $250,000 to develop materials that absorb both linear and rotational impact forces. The competitors were competing for the $500,000 Grand Prize which was announced Wednesday.
Through research in recent years, it has become clear that the severity of a concussion is heavily influenced by the rotational acceleration experienced by the head during the impact. Traditional helmet materials reduce the risk of skull fracture and severe head injuries in linear impacts but are not specifically designed to reduce rotational impact forces and provide limited protection against concussions. With the recent focus on concussions in football, improvements are needed in order to better protect against these relatively more common injuries without compromising the protection against skull fracture and other severe head injuries. The DRI/6D winning material design uses 6D’s Omni-Directional Suspension technology in which two layers of foam are separated by columns of another material. The columns allow the two layers to “shear” relative to each other in the angled impacts that can induce rotational forces, potentially reducing the rotational acceleration of the head.
Simulation model of the material before and during a shearing impact like those that induce rotational forces
The DRI/6D material was developed using LS-DYNA finite element simulations. The simulations revealed that the shear performance of the material could be adjusted without affecting the linear performance by detaching some of the columns from the upper layer of foam. The material was then optimized by running simulations across a range of impact velocities and a range of design parameters which included foam material, thicknesses of the layers, column diameters, column lengths, column spacing, and percentage of columns attached. The decoupling of the linear and shear performance is a key feature of the material.
Terry Smith, a Technical Director with Dynamic Research and the Principal Investigator for this project said “We would like to thank the NFL and its partners for sponsoring this important project. We are excited to continue development of the 6D technology. We believe this technology has the potential to really make a difference, by reducing the frequency and severity of concussions in multiple impact sports such as football. We’re looking forward to continuing the development of a helmet that incorporates this material.”
Bob Weber, CEO and Co-Founder of 6D Helmets stated “Obviously we’re thrilled to be named the winners of the NFL’s Head Health Challenge III along with our project partner Dynamic Research. Together we worked strategically to further develop our Omni-Directional Suspension technology for application into multi-impact helmets. This challenge allowed us to exercise material testing and analysis that further unlocked the true potential of our excellent energy management technology (ODS). This award will allow continued investment into the development of a multi-impact helmet solution for many sports activities in the future. I want to thank the NFL, GE, Under Armor, and NIST for sponsoring this challenge, and driving research in a positive direction to improve helmet performance and brain protection.”
NFL’s press release