The National Football League, Under Armour, General Electric, and the United States Department of Commerce's National Institutes of Standards and Technology launched an innovative competition in 2013, the Head Health Challenges, to promote research related to traumatic brain injury. One focus of this collaboration, Challenge III
, supports design of advanced materials to improve the safety of athletes and others. Charles Owen
and its president and CEO, Roy Burek, have been named finalists in this portion of the competition. Charles Owen is an MFHA corporate sponsor.
They will develop a novel material created by researchers from Cardiff University
’s School of Engineering with Cambridge University's Engineering Department. Their $250,000 initial award will be used to fund a 12-month project that will employ state-of-the-art 3D printing and high-performance computing technology to evaluate this shock-absorbent material.
Charles Owen and Cardiff University announced: "The multi-layered, elastic material, called C3, can be precisely designed using mathematical modelling and tested using high-performance computers, to enable it to be ultimately tailored for specific impact scenarios. This allows the team to test various designs before building the material with a 3D printer, which is a much more efficient and cost-effective method compared to traditional techniques. During the 3D printing process, a polymer-based powder is fused into a specific shape by a laser, which solidifies the material to form a strong, flexible structure." These structures may then be designed so that impact energy is dissipated relatively easily, creating an ideal material to use in protective clothing and accessories.
Throughout the year, researchers from the School of Engineering will work closely with Charles Owen to finely tune the material and test its robustness against a number of different impact scenarios. The five finalists from Challenge III will have their efforts judged in a year’s time by a review panel, with the most promising technology receiving another $500,000 to develop the material further.
The Head Health Challenge includes three separate challenges as part of its program of funding: Challenge I – Methods for Diagnosis and Prognosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries; Challenge II – Innovative Approaches for Preventing and Identifying Brain Injuries; and Challenge III – Advanced Materials for Impact Mitigation.
After the announcement that his company had been selected as a finalist, Burek commented, "I am so excited that the NFL has recognized our expertise and place in helping to reduce brain injury. It is through these special collaborations that we can develop the next generation of head protection. With concussion being such a world focus, I am proud that we can be a part of that story by developing solutions."
He continued, "My grandfather, Charles Owen, started making helmets to protect the British soldiers in 1911 before moving onto motorcycle helmets in 1925, and then equestrian helmets (particularly jockey helmets) in 1938. This long and illustrious record in manufacturing innovative products that increase head safety has kept the brand at the center of helmet development for over 100 years. It has only been in the past 15 years that our knowledge of how the brain is injured and how to best protect it has dramatically changed along with the design and manufacture of helmets. I am thrilled to be part of a project that pushes the development of totally new protective technologies and materials so that we can better prevent brain injuries in multiple areas.”
For more information on the Head Health Challenges, please click here
To read the full press release from Charles Owen and Cardiff University, please click here