US20130086733A1 - Helmet impact liner system - Google Patents

Helmet impact liner system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130086733A1
US20130086733A1 US13/648,361 US201213648361A US2013086733A1 US 20130086733 A1 US20130086733 A1 US 20130086733A1 US 201213648361 A US201213648361 A US 201213648361A US 2013086733 A1 US2013086733 A1 US 2013086733A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
energy management
liner system
impact liner
management structures
outer wall
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US13/648,361
Inventor
Ron Szalkowski
Dan Moore
Morgan McLennan
Shawn Thomas
Joshua Schmidt
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Intellectual Property Holdings LLC
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Intellectual Property Holdings LLC
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Publication date
Priority to US201161545436P priority Critical
Application filed by Intellectual Property Holdings LLC filed Critical Intellectual Property Holdings LLC
Priority to US13/648,361 priority patent/US20130086733A1/en
Publication of US20130086733A1 publication Critical patent/US20130086733A1/en
Assigned to INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY HOLDINGS, LLC reassignment INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY HOLDINGS, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MOORE, DAN, THOMAS, SHAWN, SCHMIDT, JOSHUA, MCLENNAN, Morgan, SZALKOWSKI, RON
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A42HEADWEAR
    • A42BHATS; HEAD COVERINGS
    • A42B3/00Helmets; Helmet covers ; Other protective head coverings
    • A42B3/04Parts, details or accessories of helmets
    • A42B3/10Linings
    • A42B3/12Cushioning devices
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A42HEADWEAR
    • A42BHATS; HEAD COVERINGS
    • A42B3/00Helmets; Helmet covers ; Other protective head coverings
    • A42B3/04Parts, details or accessories of helmets
    • A42B3/10Linings
    • A42B3/12Cushioning devices
    • A42B3/125Cushioning devices with a padded structure, e.g. foam
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A42HEADWEAR
    • A42BHATS; HEAD COVERINGS
    • A42B3/00Helmets; Helmet covers ; Other protective head coverings
    • A42B3/04Parts, details or accessories of helmets
    • A42B3/10Linings
    • A42B3/12Cushioning devices
    • A42B3/125Cushioning devices with a padded structure, e.g. foam
    • A42B3/127Cushioning devices with a padded structure, e.g. foam with removable or adjustable pads
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41HARMOUR; ARMOURED TURRETS; ARMOURED OR ARMED VEHICLES; MEANS OF ATTACK OR DEFENCE, e.g. CAMOUFLAGE, IN GENERAL
    • F41H1/00Personal protection gear
    • F41H1/04Protection helmets
    • F41H1/08Protection helmets of plastics; Plastic head-shields

Abstract

The present application discloses a helmet and an impact liner system and energy management structures for a helmet. In one exemplary embodiment, the impact liner system comprises a plurality of compressible energy management structures and one or more carriers for supporting the plurality of energy management structures within a helmet shell. The energy management structures are positioned between an interior surface of the helmet shell and the head of a user when the impact liner system is attached to the helmet shell. Each energy management structure comprises an outer wall configured to bend when an exterior of the helmet shell is impacted by an object. The carrier comprises a plurality of openings configured to receive the energy management structures. The outer wall of the energy management structures extend between the interior of the helmet shell and the carrier of the impact liner system.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a U.S. Non-Provisional Patent Application which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/545,436, filed on Oct. 10, 2011 and titled “Helmet Impact Liner System,” which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Helmets generally include a shell and a liner. The helmet shell provides protection from protruding objects and is often configured to spread the impact load across the footprint of the helmet. The helmet liner is generally made of a softer and lower density material than the helmet shell. The helmet liner is often configured such that, upon impact, the helmet liner at least partially absorbs the impact energy from the force of an impact.
  • SUMMARY
  • The present application discloses a helmet, an impact liner system for a helmet, and energy management structures for a helmet.
  • In certain embodiments, the helmet comprises a helmet shell and an impact liner system removably attached to the helmet shell. The impact liner system comprises a plurality of compressible energy management structures and one or more carriers for supporting the energy management structures within the helmet shell. The plurality of compressible energy management structures are positioned between an interior surface of the helmet shell and the head of a user when the impact liner system is attached to the helmet shell. Each energy management structure comprises an outer wall configured to bend when an exterior of the helmet shell is impacted by an object. Further, the one or more carriers comprise a plurality of openings. Each opening is configured to receive an energy management structure. The outer wall of the energy management structures extend between the interior of the helmet shell and the carrier of the impact liner system. In some embodiments, the impact liner system may comprise one or more pads positioned between the energy management structures and the head of the user.
  • In certain embodiments, the impact liner system comprises a plurality of compressible energy management structures and one or more carriers for supporting the plurality of energy management structures within a helmet shell. The energy management structures are positioned between an interior surface of the helmet shell and the head of a user when the impact liner system is attached to the helmet shell. Each energy management structure comprises an outer wall configured to bend when an exterior of the helmet shell is impacted by an object. The carrier comprises a plurality of openings. Each opening is configured to receive an energy management structure. The outer wall of the energy management structures extend between the interior of the helmet shell and the carrier of the impact liner system. In some embodiments, the outer wall of the energy management structures is cylindrical. The impact liner system may also comprise one or more pads positioned between the energy management structures and the head of the user.
  • In certain embodiments, the energy management structure comprises a top wall, an outer wall extending from the top wall and about a centerline of the energy management structure, and a radial flange extending outward from the outer wall and about the centerline of the energy management structure. The energy management structure is configured to be positioned between the head of user and an interior surface of a helmet shell such that the top wall is adjacent the head of the user and a bottom of the outer wall is adjacent the interior surface. The outer wall is configured to bend when an exterior of the helmet shell is impacted by an object. In some embodiments, one or more pads are attached to the top wall. Further, the energy management structure may comprise one or more protrusions extending outward from the outer wall. In some embodiments, the outer wall of the energy management structures is cylindrical.
  • These and additional embodiments will become apparent in the course of the following detailed description. The descriptions of the embodiments below are not intended to and do not limit the scope of the words of the claims in any way. The words of the claims have all of their full, ordinary meanings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIGS. 1A-1C illustrate perspective and bottom views of an impact liner system installed in a helmet and according to an embodiment of the present application.
  • FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate perspective and bottom views of energy management structures installed in a helmet and according to an embodiment of the present application.
  • FIGS. 3A-3C are perspective, bottom, and top views of the energy management structures shown in FIGS. 2A-2C.
  • FIGS. 4A-4E are perspective, bottom, front, top, and side views of a first energy management structure array according to an embodiment of the present application.
  • FIGS. 5A-5E are perspective, bottom, top, front, and side views of a second energy management structure array according to an embodiment of the present application.
  • FIGS. 6A-6E are perspective, bottom, top, front, and side views of a third energy management structure array according to an embodiment of the present application.
  • FIGS. 7A-7D are perspective, bottom, side, and top views of an energy management structure of the third energy management structure array shown in FIGS. 6A-6E.
  • FIGS. 8A-8B are perspective and top views of a carrier of the third energy management structure array shown in FIGS. 6A-6E.
  • FIGS. 9A and 9B are perspective and top views of pads of the impact liner system according to an embodiment of the present application.
  • FIGS. 10A and 10B are side views of energy management structures according to embodiments of the present application.
  • DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS
  • The present application discloses a helmet, an impact liner system for a helmet, and energy management structures for a helmet. In the embodiments disclosed herein, the impact liner system is described for use with a military helmet shell. Examples of such military helmet shells include a US Army Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH), a US Marine Corp Lightweight Helmet (MLH), an Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH), a Personal Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) helmet, or other typical ballistic helmet shells. However, the impact liner system may also be used with a variety of other helmets, including, but not limited to, sporting helmets, such as football, lacrosse, hockey, multi-sport, cycling, whitewater, climbing, softball, or baseball helmets, or safety helmets, such as industrial or construction helmets.
  • The current ACH and MLH helmets utilize pad suspension systems that have the advantage of being both comfortable and effective at absorbing and deflecting projectiles and are better at absorbing blunt impacts than the sling suspension helmets that preceded them. The shell of the helmet is made from laminations of ballistic fibers such as aramids, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, and carbon fibers. The impact absorbing system within these helmets is approximately % inch thick in most configurations and is made with Zorbium™ foam, produced by Team Wendy in Cleveland, Ohio. The ACH and MLH helmets having these foam pads perform to specification, but when stopping a projectile such as a high speed 9 mm bullet, the major challenge to helmet designers is to reduce the deflection of the helmet or the impression made in the helmet upon stopping the bullet.
  • The present application discloses an improved helmet impact liner system for a military helmet that decreases the deflection of the outside of the helmet while at the same time improves the high speed blunt impact absorbing characteristics of the helmet. The impact liner system may be used with both ACH and MLH military helmets. The impact liner system generally comprises a plurality of energy management structures (described in greater detail below) in place of the current foam pads. The impact liner system also generally comprises one or more pads positioned between the energy management structures and the head of the user. The energy management structures absorb more energy at high speed than the current foam pads as well as reduce the deflection of the helmet when absorbing a high-speed projectile.
  • Testing was completed comparing the high-speed projectile performance of an ACH helmet having the current foam pads and an impact liner system of the present invention. An ACH helmet having the current foam pads was shot with a 9 mm bullet. An ACH helmet having the impact liner system of the present invention was also shot with a 9 mm bullet under the same test conditions. The impact liner system of the present invention reduced the amount of helmet deflection when compared to the current foam pad system. The current foam pads permitted a large amount of deformation. In contrast, the impact liner system of the present invention permitted only a minimal amount of deformation.
  • One reason the impact liner system of the present invention performs better than the current foam pads is that the energy management structures reduce the deflection stress placed upon the outside of the helmet because the support structure between the skull and exterior of the helmet is closer to the point of bullet impact. With the current foam pads, the impact energy is spread over a larger area and thus provides greater stress on the ballistic fiber shell. Further, the energy management structures require greater force to deflect earlier in the compression cycle than the current foam pads, further reducing the bending force on the ballistic shell.
  • The impact liner system of the present invention also provides more consistent impact performance (e.g., lower standard deviation between impact test results) over the current pad systems due in part to the controllable and repeatable manufacturing processes used to make the energy management structures of the system. Further, the use of energy management structures provides for a better second impact performance than the current pad systems.
  • The layout of the energy management structures and the material by which they are made will vary with the level of threat and the composition of the ballistic shell. However, for the ACH and the MLH helmets currently produced of laminated layers of aramid textiles, the energy management structures are generally cylindrical in shape and have a diameter between about 0.5 inch and about 1.5 inch. The height of the cylinders will also depend upon the threat and may range between about ⅜ inch and about 1 inch. For the ACH or the MLH helmets, the height of the impact liner system (combined height of the energy management structures and pads) is generally about ¾ inch. In one embodiment, the height of the impact liner system is held as close to ¾ inch as possible to provide optimal performance during ballistic and blunt impacts.
  • The impact liner system of the present invention is configured to fit all ACH and MLH military helmet shell sizes. Further, the impact liner system may be used to replace existing foam pad systems for ACH and MLH military helmets. The impact liner system may also be used along with existing foam pad system for ACH and MLH military helmets (i.e., mixed liner systems, partial replacement for an existing system, etc.). In this regard, the impact liner system of the present invention is divisible and configurable in a variety ways to suit a particular application.
  • FIGS. 1A-1C illustrate an impact liner system 100 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The impact liner system 100 is configured to attach to the interior or backface of the helmet shell 110 and may be positioned between the user's head and the helmet shell. The impact liner system 100 comprises a plurality of compressible energy management structures 102 configured to bend, buckle, crush, or deform upon impact to absorb and/or dissipate the impact energy from the force of the impact. Further, the impact liner system 100 comprises one or more pads 104 positioned between the energy management structures 102 and the head of the user. The pads 104 are generally soft and conform to the shape of the user's head to provide comfort to the user and prohibit movement of the helmet on the user's head. The pads 104 also deform or crush upon impact to consume a portion of the impact energy and bring the user's head to rest in a controlled manner.
  • FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate the impact liner system 100 without the pads 104 shown in FIGS. 1A-1C and according to an embodiment of the present application. As illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2C, the energy management structures 102 of the impact liner system 100 are configured to line the interior of a helmet 110, including the front, rear, crown, and side portions of the helmet. The impact liner system 100 may also include the pads 104 removably attached to the energy management structures 102. As illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1C, the pads 104 are attached to the energy management structures 102 and are configured to be positioned at the front, rear, and crown portions of the user's head.
  • The energy management structures 102 of the present application may be configured in a variety of ways. For example, as shown in FIGS. 2C and 3A-3C, three different arrays (a first array 302, second array 304, and third array 306) of energy management structures 102 are used to line the interior of the military helmet (ACH) 110 shown in FIGS. 1A-2C. However, the energy management structures 102 may be configured and arranged in a variety of other ways, such as, for example in different patterns or arrays or as individual structures, to line the interior of the helmet shell 110. Furthermore, as shown, the energy management structures 102 each comprise a cylindrical outer wall extending between the helmet shell 110 and a base or carrier. The outer wall of the energy management structures 102 is configured to bend, buckle, crush, or otherwise deform upon impact to absorb and/or dissipate the impact energy from the force of the impact.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 4A-4E, the first array 302 comprises two (2) energy management structures 412 integrally formed with and extending from a common base 414 in a 1×2 pattern. As shown, the energy management structures 412 comprise a cylindrical outer wall 450 configured to extend between the helmet shell and the base 414. As illustrated in the embodiment of FIGS. 2A-2C, the first array 302 is sized and configured to line the portions of the helmet 110 corresponding to the temple, sides, and behind the ears of the user's head. However, in certain embodiments, the first array 302 may be configured to line other portions of the helmet.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5E, the second array 304 comprises six (6) energy management structures 412 integrally formed with and extending from a common base 514 in a 2×3 pattern. As shown, the energy management structures 412 comprise a cylindrical outer wall 450 configured to extend between the helmet shell and the base 514. As illustrated in the embodiment of FIGS. 2A-2C, the second array 304 is sized and configured to line the portions of the helmet 110 corresponding to the front and rear of the user's head. However, in certain embodiments, the second array 304 may be configured to line other portions of the helmet.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 6A-6E, the third array 306 comprises sixteen (16) energy management structures 602 removably attached to and extending from a carrier or base member 604. As shown, the energy management structures 602 comprise a cylindrical outer wall 650 configured to extend between the helmet shell and the carrier 604. As illustrated in the embodiment of FIGS. 2A-2C, the third array 306 is sized and configured to line the portion of the helmet 110 corresponding to the crown of the user's head. However, the third array may be configured in a variety of ways with more or less energy management structures 602 to line various portions of the interior of any helmet, including the crown, front, rear, and side portions of the helmet.
  • In certain embodiments, the energy management structures of the impact liner system of the present application may comprise only energy management structures that are removably attached in the openings of one or more carriers to line the interior of the helmet. The one or more carriers may have a variety of opening configurations, such as, for example, openings in a 1×2, 2×2, 2×3, 2×4, 3×3, 4×4, or any other pattern. For example, impact liner system may comprise a carrier system for supporting and positioning the compressible energy management structures within the helmet shell. The energy management structures may be removably attached to the carrier system such that one or more of the energy management structures may be removed from the carrier system and replaced with a similar or different energy management structure. Further, the carrier system may also be removed from the helmet shell and replaced with a similar or different carrier system. As such, the impact liner system may be configured for use in a variety of different applications.
  • The energy management structures of the present application may comprise a top or top wall. The top wall of the energy management structure may be configured to bend, buckle, crush, or otherwise deform upon impact to absorb and/or dissipate the impact energy from the force of the impact. As illustrated in FIGS. 4A-5E, the energy management structures 412 comprise a top wall 416. As illustrated in FIGS. 7A-7D, the energy management structures 602 comprise a top wall 716.
  • As illustrated in the embodiment of FIGS. 2A-2C, each array 302, 304, and 306 is positioned such that the top wall 416 (e.g. FIGS. 4D, 4E) and 716 (e.g., FIGS. 7A, 7B) of the energy management structures 412 and 602 are facing the backface of the helmet shell 110 and the base or carrier of the array is facing the user's head. However, in other embodiments, one or more of the arrays may be positioned with the top wall of the energy management structures facing the user's head and the base or carrier facing the backface of the helmet. Furthermore, in certain embodiments, the energy management structures 602 may be configured such that the top wall 716 of the structure is at the same end as a flange 704 used to position the structure within the opening of the carrier. In these embodiments, the energy management structures 602 may be attached within the openings of the carrier such that the top wall 716 of the energy management structures and the carrier face the user's head and the open bottom (or end opposite the top wall) of the energy management structures face the backface of the helmet.
  • The arrays 302, 304, and 306, or the energy management structures of the arrays, may be installed in the interior of the helmet shell 110 in a variety of ways, such as, for example, with one or more fasteners, adhesive, clips, pins, snaps, tape, buckles, Velcro®, or a hook and loop. For example, in certain embodiments, the arrays are installed with one or more pieces of Velcro® to the interior of the helmet shell. The top of at least one energy management structure of each array, or the portion of the energy management structure adjacent the interior of the helmet shell, may comprise a “loop” fabric capable of attaching to a hook portion of a piece of Velcro® attached to the interior of the helmet shell (or vice versa). Further, in certain embodiments, the top or portion of at least one energy management structure adjacent the interior of the helmet shell comprises an adhesive for attaching the structure to the interior of the helmet shell. In certain embodiments, the energy management structures (e.g., energy management structures 602) are positioned within the carrier such that the open bottom is adjacent to or facing the interior of the helmet shell. In these embodiments, the open bottom of at least one energy management structure may be attached to the interior of the helmet shell with one or more pieces of Velcro® and/or an adhesive.
  • Further, in certain embodiments, the arrays may be attached to the helmet shell by tabs or flanges that are bolted or otherwise attached to the helmet shell. For example, the carrier 604 of the third array 306 may comprise tabs or flanges extending from the carrier that are secured to the helmet shell with one or more fasteners, such as with a bolt, screw, or other fastener. The arrays or carriers may be attached to the helmet shell at a mounting point, such as, for example, with a bolt that goes through the helmet shell to attach a portion of the helmet retention system as well as the impact liner to the helmet shell. In other certain embodiments, the arrays or carriers are attached to the helmet shell with snaps.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 3A-7D, the energy management structures of the arrays 302, 304, and 306 are generally cylindrical in shape. However, in other embodiments, other shapes and configurations of the energy management structures or the outer walls of the energy management structures may be used, such as, for example, truncated cone, hexagonal, hemispherical, or helical. In addition, inserts or other structures, such as foam inserts or various polymer structures, may be placed within the energy management structure and may or may not be attached to the energy management structure, base, or carrier. For example, in certain embodiments, foam or compressible structures, such as hemispherical polymer structures, may be attached to the portion of the energy management structure facing the user's head and act as pad to provide comfort to the user's head.
  • The energy management structures of the first array 302 and second array 304 have a first structure 412 and extend from a common base 414 and 514. The energy management structures of the third array 306 have a second structure 602 and are removably attached to and extend from the carrier 604. The energy management structures may be removably secured in the openings of the carrier in a variety of ways, such as, for example, with a friction or interference fit, one or more fasteners, adhesive, clips, pins, snaps, tape, buckles, Velcro®, or a hook and loop.
  • As an example, FIG. 10A illustrates a side cross sectional view of an energy management structure 1000 according to an embodiment of the present application. The energy management structure 1000 comprises one or more resilient protrusions 1002 extending outward from the outer wall of the structure. In certain embodiments, the protrusions 1002 are equally spaced around the outer wall of the energy management structure, e.g., 2 protrusions spaced 180 degrees apart, 3 protrusions spaced 120 degrees apart, or 4 protrusions spaced 90 degrees apart. When the energy management structure 1000 is inserted into the carrier openings, the edge of the opening slides over the one or more protrusions 1002 and is positioned between the protrusions and a flange 1004 of the energy management structure. As such, the energy management structure 1000 snaps into the openings of the carrier and is removably secured in the opening. As shown, the flange 1004 is a radial flange extending outward from the outer wall of the energy management structure 1000 and about a centerline CL of the structure. The flange 1004 facilitates positioning of the energy management structure 1000 within the opening in the carrier.
  • The outer wall of the energy management structures may also have a draft. For example, FIG. 10B illustrates a draft angle DA with vertical axis 1052 of the outer wall 1060 of an energy management structure 1050 according to an embodiment of the present application. In certain embodiments, the draft angle of the outer wall 450 of the first structure 412 is about 0.25 degrees and the draft angle of the outer wall 650 of the second structure 602 is about 3 degrees. However, the draft angle of the outer wall 450 and 650 of the first and second structures 412 and 602 may range between 0 degrees (i.e., no draft) and about 3 degrees in other embodiments. Further, the first and second structures 412 and 602 may be used interchangeably or may used in any of the arrays. For example, any one or more of the arrays may include energy management structures having a first structure, second structure, or any combination thereof.
  • The diameter of the first and second structures 412 and 602 is generally between about 0.5 inch and about 1.5 inch. In certain embodiments, the diameter of the first and second structures 412 and 602 is about 1.25 inches. Further, the height of the first and second structures 412 and 602 is generally between about ⅜ inch and about 1 inch. In one embodiment, the height of the first and second structure 412 and 602 is about ½ inch. In another embodiment, the height of the first and second structure 412 and 602 is about ⅜ inch. In yet another embodiment, the height of the first and second structure 412 and 602 is about ⅝ inch. As discussed above, the height of the first and second structures 412 and 602 will also depend upon the threat. In certain embodiments, the overall height or thickness of the impact liner system 100 (combined height of the energy management structures 102 and pads 104) is about ¾ inch.
  • The material for the first and second structures 412 and 602 may range from soft elastomers to stiff thermoplastics and thermosets or even metals. In certain embodiments, the first and second structures 412 and 602 are made from a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). More specifically, the first and second structures 412 and 602 are made from BASF Elastollan 1164D and BASF Elastollan S98A53, respectively. However, the first and second structures 412 and 602 may be made from a variety of other thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), such as olefin based TPE's like Santoprene or Arnitel, silicon based chemistries, or engineering resins such as PEEK or Ultem. Further, in some embodiments, thermoset elastomers may be used. Other materials that may be used include Dupont Hytrel, impact modified 6/6 nylon, ETPV, or impact modified PBT.
  • The wall thickness for the first and second structures 412 and 602 may be selected to vary the stiffness of the structure. Further, the wall thickness of the outer walls may be selected to vary the range of travel when the structure buckles upon impact, thus varying the bottom out strain of the structure. For example, the wall thickness of the first and second structure 412 and 602 may be between about 0.01 and about 0.05 inch to provide a desired stiffness of the structure. In certain embodiments, the first and second structures 412 and 602 have an outer wall thickness of about 0.03 inch. This outer wall thickness of the first and second structure 412 and 602 provides a desired stiffness of the structure while maximizing the bottom out strain of the structure. Further, in certain embodiments, the wall thickness of the top wall 416 of the first structure 412 and base 414 and 514 is about 0.04 inch; the wall thickness of the top wall 716 of the second structure 602 is about 0.03 inch; and the wall thickness of the flange 704 of the second structure 602 is about 0.04 inch.
  • The first and/or second structures 412 and 602 may include one or more openings to permit air to escape unrestricted from within the array during impact. Further, the openings may permit air to circulate through the array to facilitate cooling of the user's head. As illustrated in FIGS. 7A-7D, the energy management structures 602 of the third array 306 include openings 706 in the top wall 716 of the structure. Further, the top wall 416 and 716 of the first and second structure 412 and 602 may be recessed. A circular piece of “loop” fabric may be placed in and attached to the recess to facilitate attachment of the structures to the backface of the helmet shell. Further, padding material, such as foam or a compressible structure, may be placed in the recess and/or attached to the top wall of the structure, such as, for example, to provide comfort to the user's head when the top wall of the structure is positioned facing or adjacent the user's head.
  • The first and second arrays 302 and 304 are generally injected molded from a single piece of material. The arrays 302 and 304 may be molded to form an array having a 2×4 pattern and then die cut to form the first array (1×2 pattern) and the second array (2×3 pattern). Further, the first and second array 302 and 304 are formed to include spaces or recessed portions between the energy management structures and the base. This space may be used to position the array around features on the interior of the helmet shell, such as mounting points for a helmet retention system or chinstrap. However, in other embodiments, the first and second arrays 302 and 304 may be made from a plurality of components. The multiple components may be injection molded and may be RF welded together. Other methods for fabricating and assembling the arrays may also be used, such as, for example, ultrasonic, heat staking, co-molding, insert molding, thermoforming, or rotomolding.
  • The energy management structures 602 of the third array 306 are generally injection molded from a single piece of material. The carrier 604 of the third array 306 is generally die cut from a single piece of material. As illustrated in FIGS. 6A-6E and 8A-8B, openings 802 in the carrier 604 are sized and configured to hold the energy management structures 602 of the third array 306. The energy management structures 602 and the carrier 604 may then be RF welded together. In certain embodiments, the carrier 604 is made from an extruded piece of the TPU film, such as Bayer Dureflex PT6200. Other films may also be used that adhere to the energy management structures 602 when the carrier 604 and structures are RF welded together. Multiple shapes and sizes of the carrier 604 and layout of the openings 802 may be used to configure the third array 306 in variety of ways, such as for use in various helmets or to provide different amounts of coverage and spacing between the energy management structures 602. As such, the third array 306 may be reconfigured by simply using a different carrier 604 layout.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 9A-9B, the pads 104 of the helmet liner system 100 include a front pad 902, a middle pad 904, and a rear pad 906. The pads 104 are generally made of a soft, viscoelastic foam that stiffens when compressed (e.g., during impact). The pads 104 conform to the shape of the user's head to provide comfort to the user and prohibit movement of the helmet 110 on the user's head. The pads 104 also deform or crush upon impact to consume a portion of the impact energy and bring the user's head to rest in a controlled manner. The pads 104 may be configured in a variety of sizes and dimensions to accommodate a range of head sizes and different helmet configurations. Further, the pads 104 may be connected together to form a unitary component of pads. In certain embodiments, the helmet liner system comprises a plurality of pads, such as foam or compressible structures, that are sized and shaped to correspond to the individual energy management structures and may be attached to the energy management structures.
  • In one embodiment, the pads 104 comprise a flexible and resilient polyurethane foam having an average density between about 3.0 and 12.0 lbs/ft3 and an average thickness between about 0.1 and 1.0 inch. For example, in certain embodiments, the pads 104 comprise a polyurethane foam having an average density of 4.0 lbs/ft3 and an average thickness of about 0.1875 inches. One example of such a polyurethane foam is Zorbium™ Foam from Team Wendy, LLC. However, the pads 104 may comprise a variety of other types of foam or other materials, such as, for example, expanded polypropylene, expanded polystyrene, vinyl nitrile, and molded polymer structures such as thermoplastic urethane (TPU). Further, any one or more of the pads 104 may comprise a different type of material than another pad. For example, softer and/or thicker pads 104 may be positioned toward the front of the helmet shell 110 and more rigid and/or thinner pads may be positioned toward the top and/or rear of the helmet shell.
  • Each pad 104 may be encased in a liner material. In one embodiment, the liner material comprises a top portion and bottom portion. The top portion of the liner material is heat sealed to the bottom portion around the pad. When the pad 104 comprises one or more pad structures, the liner material holds the pad structures in relative position to one another to form the pad. The pads 104 and the liner material are flexible such that the pads may be formed to the shape of the energy management structures within the interior of a helmet shell.
  • In certain embodiments, the liner material comprises a nylon loop fabric from Guilford Performance Textiles. However, the liner material may comprise a variety of other types of materials and fabrics. For example, the liner material may comprise an Ultrasuede® fabric material. Further, the liner material may be water resistant. For example, the liner material may comprise a wicking fabric, such as, for example, polyester, nylon, or spandex. In one embodiment, the wicking fabric is GameTime Antimicrobial Wicking Fabric. In other embodiments, however, the pads 104 are moisture absorbent to absorb perspiration from the user's head. Further, in one embodiment, the pads 104 comprise a fabric material only and do not include a foam portion.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 9A-9B, the front pad 902 comprises a central portion, a left portion, and a right portion. The middle pad 904 is rectangular in shape. The rear pad 906 comprises a central portion, a left portion, and a right portion. As illustrated in FIG. 9B, each pad 104 is substantially disposed about a centerline CL of the pad system. As such, in this embodiment, each pad 104 possess a geometry on one side of the centerline CL that is a mirror image of the geometry on the other side of the centerline CL.
  • FIGS. 1A-1C illustrate the pads 104 in a folded configuration and attached to one or more energy management structure arrays 102 in a helmet shell 110. As shown, the front pad 902 is positioned on the front and sides of the helmet 110; the middle pad 904 is positioned on the top of the helmet; and the rear pad 906 is positioned on the rear and sides of the helmet. The central portion of the front pad 902 is configured to protect/comfort the forehead of the user and the left and right portions are configured to protect/comfort the front left and front right portions of the user's head. The middle pad 904 is configured to protect/comfort the top or crown of the user's head. The central portion of the rear pad 906 is configured to protect/comfort the rear of the user's head and the left and right portions are configured to protect/comfort the rear left and rear right portions of the user's head.
  • The pads 104 may be installed on one or more energy management structure arrays in a variety of ways, such as, for example, with one or more fasteners, adhesive, clips, pins, snaps, tape, buckles, Velcro®, or a hook and loop. For example, in certain embodiments, the liner material comprises a “loop” fabric capable of attaching to the hook portion of a piece of Velcro® on one or more energy management structure arrays, such as, for example on the base or carrier of the array. In another embodiment, the liner material is attached to one or more arrays by tabs that are bolted or otherwise attached to the array. In another embodiment, the liner material is attached to one or more arrays with snaps.
  • The stiffness response of the impact liner system 100 may be modified or tuned in a variety of ways. For example, the energy management structures or arrays may be tuned to have a desired stiffness response. These structures may be tuned without regard to the comfort or wearability of the helmet when the pads are used. The stiffness response of the energy management structures may be tuned in a variety of ways, such as by altering the size, shape, diameter, wall thickness, angle, type of material, or radius between the outer wall and base of the energy management structure. In certain embodiments, an energy management structure and/or an array may be removed and replaced with a similar or different structure or array to modify the stiffness response of the impact liner system. Further, ribs may be added to the walls of the energy management structure to increase the stiffness of the structure. The energy management structures may also be spaced or arranged to provide a desired stiffness response, e.g., rectangular, staggered, or circular arrangements. Once the energy management structures are tuned to have a desired stiffness response, the pads may be tuned to provide a desired stiffness while still maintaining a degree of softness or comfort. For example, the type of material, density, thickness, shape, size, and configuration of the pads may be altered to provide more or less stiffness or comfort.
  • As described herein, when one or more components are described as being connected, joined, affixed, coupled, attached, or otherwise interconnected, such interconnection may be direct as between the components or may be in direct such as through the use of one or more intermediary components. Also as described herein, reference to a “member,” “component,” or “portion” shall not be limited to a single structural member, component, or element but can include an assembly of components, members or elements.
  • While the present invention has been illustrated by the description of embodiments thereof, and while the embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not the intention of the applicants to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the invention to such details. Additional advantages and modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art. For example, component geometries, shapes, and dimensions can be modified without changing the overall role or function of the components. Therefore, the inventive concept, in its broader aspects, is not limited to the specific details, the representative device, and illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of the applicant's general inventive concept.
  • While various inventive aspects, concepts and features of the inventions may be described and illustrated herein as embodied in combination in the exemplary embodiments, these various aspects, concepts and features may be used in many alternative embodiments, either individually or in various combinations and sub-combinations thereof. Unless expressly excluded herein all such combinations and sub-combinations are intended to be within the scope of the present inventions. Still further, while various alternative embodiments as to the various aspects, concepts and features of the inventions—such as alternative materials, structures, configurations, methods, devices and components, alternatives as to form, fit and function, and so on—may be described herein, such descriptions are not intended to be a complete or exhaustive list of available alternative embodiments, whether presently known or later developed. Those skilled in the art may readily adopt one or more of the inventive aspects, concepts or features into additional embodiments and uses within the scope of the present inventions even if such embodiments are not expressly disclosed herein. Additionally, even though some features, concepts or aspects of the inventions may be described herein as being a preferred arrangement or method, such description is not intended to suggest that such feature is required or necessary unless expressly so stated. Still further, exemplary or representative values and ranges may be included to assist in understanding the present disclosure, however, such values and ranges are not to be construed in a limiting sense and are intended to be critical values or ranges only if so expressly stated. Moreover, while various aspects, features and concepts may be expressly identified herein as being inventive or forming part of an invention, such identification is not intended to be exclusive, but rather there may be inventive aspects, concepts and features that are fully described herein without being expressly identified as such or as part of a specific invention, the inventions instead being set forth in the appended claims. Descriptions of exemplary methods or processes are not limited to inclusion of all steps as being required in all cases, nor is the order that the steps are presented to be construed as required or necessary unless expressly so stated.

Claims (26)

We claim:
1. An impact liner system for a helmet shell, comprising:
a plurality of compressible energy management structures positioned between an interior surface of a helmet shell and the head of a user when the impact liner system is attached to the helmet shell, wherein each energy management structure comprises an outer wall configured to bend when an exterior of the helmet shell is impacted by an object; and
one or more carriers for supporting the plurality of energy management structures within the helmet shell, the carrier comprising a plurality of openings, each opening configured to receive an energy management structure; and
wherein the outer wall of the energy management structures extend between the interior of the helmet shell and the carrier of the impact liner system.
2. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the outer wall of the energy management structures is cylindrical.
3. The impact liner system of claim 1 further comprising one or more pads positioned between the energy management structures and the head of the user.
4. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the energy management structures comprise a flange for positioning the energy management structures within the openings of the carrier.
5. The impact liner system of claim 3, wherein the flange is a radial flange extending outward from the outer wall and about a centerline of the energy management structure.
6. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the energy management structures are removably attached in the openings of the carrier.
7. The impact liner system of claim 6, wherein the energy management structures comprise one or more resilient protrusions extending from the outer wall that permit the energy management structures to snap into the openings of the carrier.
8. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the outer wall of one or more of the energy management structures is cylindrical, and wherein one or more resilient protrusions extend outward from the cylindrical outer wall, and wherein an edge of the opening in the carrier is positioned between the one or more protrusions and a flange of the energy management structure when the energy management structure is received in the opening.
9. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the impact liner system is configured such that a top wall of one or more of the energy management structures is positioned facing the user's head.
10. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the impact liner system is configured such that a top wall of one or more of the energy management structures is positioned facing the interior surface of a helmet shell.
11. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein one or more of the energy management structures is removably attached to the interior surface of the helmet shell to attach the impact liner system to the helmet shell.
12. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein a draft angle between the outer wall of one or more of the energy management structures and a vertical axis is between 0 degrees and about 3 degrees.
13. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the diameter of one or more of the energy management structures is between about 0.5 inch and about 1.5 inch.
14. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the height of one or more of the energy management structures is between about ⅜ inch and about 1 inch.
15. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the energy management structures comprise thermoplastic polyurethane.
16. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the thickness of the outer wall of one or more of the energy management structures is between about 0.01 inch and about 0.05 inch.
17. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein the thickness of the outer wall of one or more of the energy management structures is about 0.03 inch.
18. The impact liner system of claim 1, wherein one or more of the energy management structures comprise a top wall having one or more openings.
19. A helmet, comprising:
a helmet shell; and
an impact liner system removably attached to the helmet shell, the impact liner system comprising a plurality of compressible energy management structures and one or more carriers for supporting the energy management structures within the helmet shell;
wherein the plurality of compressible energy management structures are positioned between an interior surface of the helmet shell and the head of a user when the impact liner system is attached to the helmet shell, and wherein each energy management structure comprises an outer wall configured to bend when an exterior of the helmet shell is impacted by an object; and
wherein the one or more carriers comprise a plurality of openings, each opening configured to receive an energy management structure, and wherein the outer wall of the energy management structures extend between the interior of the helmet shell and the carrier of the impact liner system.
20. The helmet of claim 19, wherein the outer wall of the energy management structures is cylindrical.
21. The helmet of claim 19, wherein the impact liner system comprises one or more pads positioned between the energy management structures and the head of the user.
22. An energy management structure for a helmet, comprising:
a top wall;
an outer wall extending from the top wall and about a centerline of the energy management structure; and
a radial flange extending outward from the outer wall and about the centerline of the energy management structure;
wherein the energy management structure is configured to be positioned between the head of user and an interior surface of a helmet shell such that the top wall is adjacent the head of the user and a bottom of the outer wall is adjacent the interior surface, and wherein the outer wall is configured to bend when an exterior of the helmet shell is impacted by an object.
23. The energy management structure of claim 22, wherein the outer wall is cylindrical.
24. The energy management structure of claim 22 further comprising one or more protrusions extending outward from the outer wall.
25. The energy management structure of claim 22 further comprising one or more pads attached to the top wall.
26. The energy management structure of claim 22, wherein the top wall comprises one or more openings.
US13/648,361 2011-10-10 2012-10-10 Helmet impact liner system Abandoned US20130086733A1 (en)

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