The National Football League (NFL) selected Xenith as one of three finalists in the 2021 NFL Helmet Challenge, a $3 million competition aimed at improving helmet performance and the safety of NFL players.
After two years of innovation, 13 different "teams" submitted new helmet prototypes for laboratory testing and evaluation by a panel of judges. Out of the groups who submitted prototype designs, only three were selected to receive $1.55 million in grant funding to take their innovative designs and technologies to the next level and onto the football field as soon as possible.
“For the groups to address this challenge in ways that have real transferability to football is quite remarkable,” says Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy. “I don’t think we were surprised with the outcome, so far; that was the hope when we brought people together from different walks of life, lots of different experiences and expertise to address this issue.
Xenith - the only current football helmet manufacture of the selected finalists - developed a prototype that raises the bar for helmet safety and performance.
“Team Xenith’s prototype was built based upon a strong basis of research, collaboration and innovation," said Xenith's Chief Engineer, Ron Jadischke. "Members of our team have been involved in the foundational research to understand on-field impact performance and comfort. We have also formed strong partnerships with development partners like RHEON Labs (London, UK), BASF | Forward AM (Heidelberg, Germany; Detroit, MI) and the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON). Through these partnerships, we have applied a system level engineering approach combining additive manufacturing, material chemistry and structural design to engineer a prototype that optimizes player safety for the hundreds of low severity impacts a lineman may see on every play, to the 1:1000 high severity impacts."
Here is a breakdown of each group and how much grant funding they were awarded:
Xenith (Detroit, Michigan) - $496,500
Xenith's prototype submission incorporates a compliant shell, 3D-printed lattice carrier, engineered RHEON energy control structures, for both geometry and material chemistry, and customizable Kinetix foam inserts for improved helmet performance and comfort.
Impressio (Denver, Colorado) - $454,000
Impressio's helmet leveraged its unique liquid-crystal elastomer (LCE) material, a soft, multifunctional elastic and highly energy-absorbing material. Combined with 3D printing, Impressio is able to rapidly develop novel helmet and liner solutions that take advantage of this revolutionary material.
Kollide (Montreal, Canada) - $550,000
By combining unique expertise in industrial design, additive manufacturing, experimental, and virtual testing, the Kollide team developed and optimized a prototype with an energy absorption system. Its liner is made of complex and organic 3D printed mesh calibrated to absorb and redirect impact energy, limiting both the linear and rotational accelerations transmitted to the head.