MCAD Tech News (#301)10 Mar, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff
Schutt Sports Scores with Football Helmet Digitization
With the help of ReverseEngineering.com software, this safety equipment company transforms captured surface data directly into SolidWorks CAD models.
By Nicholas Iwaskow
Do you want to be safe, or do you want to be cool? When it comes to sports, these are often mutually exclusive options, but not in the case of Schutt Sports football helmets and faceguards. The company's Ion 4D, Schutt AiR XP, and DNA Pro+ are the world's only helmets to feature advanced TPU (thermoplastic urethane) cushioning — the material used in U.S. fighter pilot and paratrooper helmets. These helmets protect heads and look good doing it.
Though a rising star, Schutt Sports has made football safety equipment since 1935, when it developed the sport's first faceguard. Today, three out of four pro football players wear Schutt Sports gear. The company recently decided to aggressively upgrade its entire helmet and faceguard line, a decision that presented several engineering challenges.
Recovering Complex Surfaces from 2D Designs
The first of these challenges was complexity of form. Although it may appear to be roughly spherical, a football helmet in fact has a complex set of curves to optimize safety, fit, performance, and eye appeal. Adding to this complexity are cooling vents that keep the wearer comfortable and help prevent heat stroke.
Cooling vents and a multipart cushioning system are two of the design elements integral to this Schutt Ion helmet.
Second, Schutt's engineering documents were trapped in static 2D files, presenting a major productivity hurdle for engineers who were used to working with Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks 3D modeling software.
"We needed a straightforward way to get our existing, older designs into a 3D format so we could update them," said Tony VanHoutin, Schutt's lead design engineer. "We could not compromise on precision because we need a perfect fit of all helmet components — including shells, padding, faceguards, and fasteners — across our full range of child and adult sizes." Read more »
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Nicholas Iwaskow is the manager of alliances for SolidWorks.
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