Increased Impact Protection of the Navy's Aviator Helmets

Period of Performance: 05/28/2003 - 11/28/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Skydex Technologies, Inc.
12503 E. Euclid Drive Suite 60
Englewood, CO 80111
Principal Investigator


This is a proposal to demonstrate the feasibility of improving impact protection for Navy aviator helmets using SKYDEX patented technology. SKYDEX material absorbs impact through compression of opposed hemispheres formed from durable elastic polymers. Products are custom engineered to meet a customer's specific requirement for shock absorption. SKYDEX technology offers more effective impact protection in less space than traditional cushioning materials like foam or rubber. SKYDEX is involved with several helmet projects. A SKYDEX nape pad for the back of the PASGT infantry helmet was developed for the US Army. In lab testing done at the US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, the SKYDEX nape pad outperformed the existing nape pad, reducing Peak G scores by over 40%. Field-testing is about to begin. Lab testing done both at Snell Labs in California and BioKinetics in Toronto, Canada also showed SKYDEX materials significantly outperforming current cushioning products. By developing a custom geometry, performing impact testing with different polymers in an aviator helmet, and then refining the geometry and polymer choice based on initial results, we are confident that SKYDEX technology can offer significantly improved impact protection over current Styrofoam liners. SKYDEX technology can improve upon the impact attenuation, heat management and durability offered by current helmet liners. Advances made through this SBIR for aviator helmets can be modified to work with other military helmets as well as products requiring greater impact attenuation. SKYDEX is currently studying "nape" pads for use in paratrooper helmets, boat decking, ejection seat cushions, and padding for the transportation of sensitive military equipment. Helmet linings for cycling, motor sports, football, skiing, skateboarding, hockey, lacrosse etc. could be developed as a result of the knowledge gained from this SBIR. SKYDEX technology has been commercialized to solve problems of impact attenuation in footwear, playground surfaces, and boat decking panels. Several active sports companies (Airwalk skateboard shoes and Burton snowboard boots) are using SKYDEX technology in their midsoles to offer greater protection for landings from high jumps. SKYDEX is selling a safety panel to go under playground surfaces that that offers far greater impact protection than what is currently available. A SKYDEX boat-decking panel is available for both commercial and military boats, which shows great promise for reducing injury to personnel in high-speed, rough water situations. SKYDEX has significant experience in moving products from design, through prototyping to production. Once a final prototype is developed, a production tool can be designed and built in about 3 months. Twin sheet thermoforming production is very efficient and thousands of parts can be produced in a matter of days.