- From prototype to mass production of damping elements for innovative American football helmet from market leader Riddell in 100 days
- Named test winner by US Football League initiative: 3D mesh product from OECHSLER improves protective effect of Riddell helmets
- As the production technology of the future, additive manufacturing offers OECHSLER great potential for growth
OECHSLER AG, a leading plastics technology group with a global presence and headquarters in Ansbach/Middle Franconia, Germany, is using its global fleet of 3D printers to produce the plastic mesh helmet damping elements for the innovative "Riddell SpeedFlex Diamond" American football helmet. Thanks to OECHSLER's proven expertise in plastic-based 3D printing technology with machines from Silicon Valley 3D printing pioneer Carbon Inc, Riddell was able to quickly bring a new generation of products to market and realize a competitive advantage. Riddell is recognized as a leader in helmet technology for American football. From prototype to the start of large-scale production by OECHSLER took less than 100 days - and that was despite the pandemic outbreak in the meantime and the resulting challenges during the course of the project.
Within the scope of the project, OECHSLER Additive Manufacturing capacities were used both at the Ansbach-Brodswinden site and at the Taicang plant in China.
3D lattice design replaces foam damping elements
The special feature of the new SpeedFlex Diamond helmet from Riddell is the 3D grid construction for damping elements, which substitutes the previously used foam in the helmet inserts. The grid consists of thousands of rod-shaped elastic connections and takes into account the latest findings in impact analysis. It enables bionic structures that make the helmet customizable, lighter, more comfortable, and more breathable. In particular, they improve player protection by optimizing the helmet's shock-absorbing properties, which can be custom-programmed to meet the needs of different areas, such as the forehead, temples, and back of the head.
As part of its "Play Smart, Play Safe" initiative, the US Football League NFL has therefore chosen the helmet model produced with the OECHSLER components as the test winner based on an independent comparison.
Individualized damping properties for different applications
The damping property of the grille structure is programmable via the geometry of the grilles, the thickness (or gauge) of the grille bars, and the size of the grilles. This allows different areas of the helmet to be equipped with different damping properties, thus increasing protection. OECHSLER has been producing plastic-based 3D mesh structures for various applications for three years. The project with Riddell demonstrates the versatile applicability and volume scalability of 3D printing, for example in the context of replacing or improving existing products, and is thus an inspiration for new areas of application.
In principle, the cushioning technology used can also be used in other applications, from sports (e.g. shoes, equestrian sports) to protective clothing (e.g. police and firefighters) and road traffic (e.g. motorcycle and bicycle seats).