How it's Made: Promotional Lacrosse Helmets
Lacrosse is one of the most intense contact team sports to play at the Olympics. The percentage of head injuries to male and female US high-school athletes number 25% and 26%, respectively. So players must don a complete equipment set in order to play*. As the USA's fastest growing sport suppliers need to find ways of meeting the demand. So how do manufacturers accomodate the high intensity of the game designing promotional Lacrosse helmets?
The ShellThe helmet shell design is primarily for the protection of the athlete from high-impact stick swings. The material required to accomodate this must be durable and light. Similarly to BMX, Ski and batting helmets, the most frequently used material is ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). ABS is the perfect material for promotional lacrosse helmets because it is lightweight, incredibly shock absorbant and can be injection-moulded. The helmet manufacturing begins with injection moulding the shell. The ABS pellets pass through a heating drum in the moulding machine. The pellets heat to 400-460ºF in the drum, melting to a glassy, malleable state. When liquid the plastic passes into the mould cavity of the helmet shell where it cools. The shells cool within minutes. The cavity itself is precision machined by an industrial designer using a mould-maker. An industrial robot arm equipped with drill then bores holes for the face mask, chin strap and ventilation in under 30 seconds. Excess plastic gets sanded off and the helmets are coated in a primer. Once set, a technician applies the paint basis of the custom design of the promotional lacrosse helmets using a high pressure spray. The shells are coated with automative paint as it's density (100μm or 0.1mm) protects designs. It is during the final steps that insignias or decals are hand placed. The shells cure being left to hang for up to 18 hours.
Interior Lining, Straps and MaskThe interior lining of the helmet actively protects the athlete from injury by softening impacts. The shell stops the stick trajectory from striking the athlete's skull, but it's the inner lining that transfers that energy. Manufacturers use polypropylene and foam which combines energy dispersal properties with comfort. The padding snaps into place, locking into holes created previously by the industrial robotic drill. All interior lining firmly inserts into the interior of the shell, then a technician performs quality control checks ensuring the safety of the product. If it passes all tests, the helmet moves on to have the face mask attached. The custom design masks are made of plastic coated titanium. Titanium is used for it's incredible weight/strength ratio, providing complete protection for the face while not adding to the overall mass a great deal. A technician hand screws each mask to the shell. The chin straps are made from a band of polyester. A pressing machine uses heat to print a stencil of the custom design on to the chin strap. The machine cuts, presses and uses heat to bond acrylic foil to the polyester strip. The strips are cut, a cup is placed on the band and screwed to the helmet. The staff then box and numbers the helmets ready for delivery and play. If you have enjoyed reading how promotional lacrosse helmets are made, check out our other articles on How It's Made.
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