By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4)– The SMASH Lab is almost finished and a few engineers at CU Denver are hoping to revolutionize the football helmet.
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“What we would expect to see is that our liquid crystalline elastomer surpasses the current standard of foams that you find in sports helmets, NFL helmets,” said Rich Wojcik of startup Impressio.
Liquid crystalline elastomer is a special material that absorbs energy. The team with Impressio and CU Denver believe that a new inner shell of a football helmet could reduce concussions.
“We 3D printed a mold and poured our material into it. It has this hexagonal pattern because we think some different structures might be of interest for certain energy absorbing properties, ”said Sam Mills, a doctoral student at CU Denver.
“We can absorb energy over a longer period of time, which hopefully means there’s a lower maximum acceleration on your head which hopefully would lead to fewer concussions.”
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The team built a linear impactor that shoots a rod at 15 mph hitting a dummy head in the SMASH lab.
SMASH stands for Smashing Materials and Smashing Helmets. The mannequin has nine sensors inside and the team is hoping to find out if their product can absorb enough energy to change football.
“Our goal is not necessarily to redesign the entire helmet, our goal is to make this material available for companies to put inside their helmets and improve their helmets,” Mills said.
LINK: Impressio Tech
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Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 to cover the West Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015, he has been working on the Front Range at the Denver headquarters. Follow him on twitter @ CBS4Jeff.