FE Models: A New Engineering Resource for Football Helmet Design

fe models

As part of the National Football League’s (NFL) Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative, the league has pledged $60 million for creating a 5-year project called “Engineering Roadmap.” Biocore, a partner in the project and Football Research, Inc. (FRI), in charge of managing the project have developed open-source finite element (FE) models of four modern football helmets.

FE models are computing tools created by breaking an object down into simpler parts (finite elements) and assembling them into a larger system of equations to model an entire structure—this facilitates the efficient analysis of design changes to that structure. FE models have been used to enhancee designs in many engineered products, such as those in the aeronautics and automotive industries.

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fe models

The FE models of football helmets are now available to the public as a platform and baseline resource for injury prevention research and to stimulate the development of novel and highly effective helmet designs and prototypes.

Biocore developed technical specifications and experimental validation data for these four different modern football helmets, using the latest knowledge of concussion mechanisms. The models are designed to help predict how a product will react to real-world forces such as a helmet-to-helmet impact, helmet-to-ground impact or helmet-to-shoulder impact.

The FE models were made as a way to improve safety of protective equipment in football. They are also part of an effort to build bridges between innovators creating products and experts doing leading biomechanical research on concussion prevention.

fe models

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Manufacturers, designers, entrepreneurs, and others working to develop effective helmet designs for the safety of athletes can access these models online.

Funding support for the project was provided by the NFL—collaborated with partners at the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the University of Waterloo

On May 9, Dr. Richard Kent—an engineering expert who works at the intersection of biomechanics and sports—shared the new toolkit in a webinar for engineers and entrepreneurs. Dr. Kent is a Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia, past Deputy Director of the UVA Center for Applied Biomechanics, Co-Founder of Biomechanics Consulting & Research, LLC (Biocore) and a consultant to the NFL Health and Safety Committee.

Special NOTE: Sean Sansiveri, VP Business and Legal Affairs at NFLPA, will speak at the WT | Wearable Technologies Conference 2018 USA in San Francisco on July 11-12.