Packaging the Head

Packaging the Head

Back in September, we took a visit to Jay’s old stomping grounds at Clemson University to talk with PhD candidates in the Department of Packaging Sciences about their newest toy: the pneumatic linear ram. It is used to apply force to an item in order to test durability. We have provided our assembled helmets and facemasks to witness their features in action. Testing high impact on a constructed helmet is an important part of the design process in order to keep players safe and comfortable on the field. 

The head is the package

Green Gridiron has been working with Clemson’s Packaging Science Department for over 6 years now, focusing on testing and improving the safety of the helmets that we sell. We have been in touch with Associate Professor, Gregory Batt and collaborating on the testing and evaluations of helmets and facemasks. The work of the packaging science and bioengineering students in the dynamics labs has helped us work on refining the safety of our helmets. 

There are padding systems in place on the inside of the helmet that have allowed for protection of the head, now we are working on preventing any impacts that happen in and around the facemask region. Batt’s focus in packaging is the protection of the product. In our case, he views the human head as the contents that require protection. Collectively, the helmet and facemask becomes a protective interface that creates a barrier between the packaged human head and a harmful impact or environment. 


Behind the machine

The Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences has received a new machine that is designed to hit football helmets. The PhD candidates at Clemson help us test the safety of our facemasks. We strived to get involved with the process of helmet safety design and get into the nitty gritty of it all. Here we learned the proper way to smash a helmet. 


We talked with Bioengineering PhD student, Davis Ferriell (pictured above) about the linear impactor. There are a lot of parts and pieces that work together to create our safety testing system. Ferriell showed us the wires, power, compressor, and user interface monitor system that combine to operate the pneumatic linear ram. Professionals are able to input various settings and witness different results of each impact to record data for their research. 



How to make an impact

The pneumatic linear ram contains an impacting rod and an impacting head that are accelerated by a piston. The impacting rod is set to accelerate to hit the impacting head, creating a domino effect that barrels the impacting face towards the target head form, found inside a tank. This piston is set to operate at whatever metrics are determined on the control pad. The impact is then recorded with a camera and with an accelerometer. Once the impact is completed, data is collected on the acceleration in a linear or rotational formation.

Tessa Gagne (pictured below) is a Master’s student in Packaging Sciences who demonstrated the firing of the ram for us and allowed us to get some intriguing slow-motion shots on video. 

Gagne explained to us that they are able to gather the speed based on the applied pressure. A sensor records elements such as the rotational linear acceleration and the severity index. That movement can be seen on the camera recording. After testing, they also note how well the facemask and helmet fared physically and describe its condition. 

Until next time

We value the input of students in the dynamics research lab at Clemson University. During this session, we were given a small glimpse into the process of safety testing and helmet development. We plan on meeting with the Packaging Science Department again to follow-up on any questions that were inspired by our visit and to see how things have improved through this collaboration. Next time, we want to show you solid data presented to us by the students at work. Comment and let us know if you have any questions for us to bring up during our next visit and stay tuned to discover your answers!


Amanda Phillips

Amanda Phillips

Amanda Phillips is the Content Marketing Developer for Green Gridiron. She has a BS in Media and Communications. Amanda is skilled with writing for multiple media platforms, photography, and editing. She enjoys anything creative that she can get her hands on.

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