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SMASH Lab Hopes To Revolutionize The Football Helmet

By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4)- The SMASH Lab is nearly complete, and a few engineers at CU Denver are hoping to revolutionize the football helmet.

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(credit: CBS)

"What we expect to see is our Liquid Crystalline Elastomer outperforming the current standard of foams you find in sports, NFL helmets," said Rich Wojcik with the startup Impressio.

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The Liquid Crystalline Elastomer is a special material that absorbs energy. The team with Impressio and CU Denver think a new inner shell of a football helmet could reduce concussions.

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"We 3D printed a mold and poured our material into it. It has this hexagonal pattern because we think some different structures might be interesting for some energy absorbing properties," said Sam Mills, a PhD candidate at CU Denver.

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"We can absorb energy over a longer kind of time which hopefully means there's a lower peak acceleration on your head which would hopefully lead to fewer concussions."

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The team has built a linear impactor that fires a rod at 15 mph hitting a dummy head in the SMASH lab.

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(credit: CU Denver)

SMASH stands for Smashing Materials and Smashing Helmets. The dummy has nine sensors inside and the team hopes to find out if its product can absorb enough energy to change football.

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"Our goal isn't necessarily to redesign the entire helmet, our goal is to make this material available for companies to put this inside their helmets and make their helmets better," said Mills.

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(credit: CBS)

LINK: Impressio Tech

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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