Merger comes as the NFL has awarded $1.55M to three companies looking to improve the safety and effectiveness of players' helmetsGETTY IMAGES
VICIS and Schutt, two of the three "major helmet manufacturers," are "merging and moving operations to Plainfield, Ind., just west of Indianapolis," according to Peter King of NBCSPORTS.com. VICIS, the "new helmet maker on the block, has pushed the established helmet companies to think different" in the industry. This year it introduced "the first position-specific helmet in football history -- a helmet for offensive and defensive linemen designed with more protection at the forehead and hairline areas." VICIS and Schutt will "be part of Certor Sports, a big U.S. sporting-goods manufacturer, with an emphasis on safer equipment for all levels of sports." Certor CEO Jim Heidenreich said that his company will "seek to combine 'innovation, performance and protection'" (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/25).
NFL IS FUNDING HELMET TECH: The AP's Barry Wilner notes the NFL has "awarded a total of $1.55 million split among three companies in its Helmet Challenge." The challenge aims "to dramatically accelerate the timeline for the development of a football helmet better than anything currently being worn by NFL players." Receiving the grant awards are "Kollide of Montreal ($550,000); Xenith of Detroit ($496,500); and Impressio of Denver ($454,000)." Each has "teamed with experts in a variety of fields in seeking improved designs and materials for helmets." Impressio leveraged "a unique soft, multifunctional elastic and highly energy-absorbing material, combined with 3D printing, to rapidly develop novel helmet and liner solutions." Kollide developed and optimized "a prototype with an energy absorption system." Its liner is "made of complex and organic 3D printed mesh." Xenith’s prototype uses "highly performing and durable materials, incorporating a compliant shell, 3D-printed lattice carrier, energy control structures and customizable foam inserts for improved helmet performance and comfort" (AP, 10/25).