Women's Lacrosse Helmet

Women's Lacrosse Helmet Case Study

Background

Given the rate of growth of lacrosse in the United States and around the world, and the increase in the aggressiveness of the sport, it has become apparent that more steps need to be taken to ensure that players are protected. In women’s lacrosse, a quarter of all injuries are head injuries, and the majority of these are concussions. As part of an International Design Competition, Emily K. Stokes, a senior Industrial Design student at The Ohio State University, under the guidance of Professor Scott Shim, developed a design for a women’s lacrosse helmet. Four main areas of concern were identified as a result of reviewing current helmet designs and consulting with players and coaches: protection, fit, hair, and style.
 

Challenge

The goal was to design a new helmet for women’s lacrosse that addressed these four areas of concern. The most important issue, protection of the athlete, was undertaken by US Lacrosse in conjunction with standards developer ASTM in 2015. Regulations were created for women’s lacrosse helmets, identifying impact zones where players needed the most protection. Also, helmets were required to be made of a soft material to reduce the chances of injuries resulting from the helmet itself.
Model Solution, a Laird company, became involved with the students in the design competition, and built the prototype model of the women’s lacrosse helmet. The OSU student and MS engineers worked together on several complex manufacturing issues in order to meet the design requirements. First, the model had to be machined in multiple axes and in multiple pieces, and then glued together to make it into the final one-piece model. Second, wrapping the fabric around the curved, thin-walled plastic helmet was difficult, and the adhesion of the fabric onto the plastic did not go well. Finally, considerable challenges in out-sourcing the materials needed for the foam padding and the attachment straps added further difficulties.
 

Solution

Once the machining issues were identified, the adhesion issues were addressed, and the necessary additional materials were obtained, to complete the prototype helmet. The process for developing the prototype model included internal design decisions, CNC machining, wet sanding and helmet finish, fabric wrapping, and final assembly. The helmet model was built from ABS and acrylic, with foam padding, various fabrics and strapping material completing the design.
 

Results

The four areas of concern that were originally identified – protection, fit, hair and style – were all addressed by the final design. The design met the necessary requirements for impact and protection of the wearer, and the prototype was made of a suitable softer plastic. The second issue was fit; the design uses an adjustment system at the back of the helmet to easily fit it to each player’s head and keep it securely in place. The third issue was hair, and the helmet design accommodates the ponytail, which is almost universally favored by female athletes, by featuring a small opening for the base of the ponytail without compromising safety. Finally, the style issue was addressed to allow players to feel athletic, fast and powerful, in a sport where speed is key.
 
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Women's Lacrosse Helmet Model
Complex design using ABS, acrylic and various fabrics and materials for foam and strap