Major League Baseball (MLB) has released a new type of head protection for its players to debut during Spring Training 2016. Working on behalf of the MLB and MLB Players Association, a Los Angeles-based company, Boombang, engineered and constructed a new “hybrid of a cap and a helmet,” dubbed the “Half Cap.” At spring training this year, around 20 pitchers are trying out the new technology.
Boombang describes its Half Cap as having “an aggressively-styled carbon fiber composite shell lined with an advanced energy-absorbing impact layer, a conforming foam liner, and a breathable moisture-wicking cover.”
However, one man’s company is looking to pitch a composite product he believes could make the helmets even better. Paul LeBlanc, Executive Vice President of Stamford, Conn.-based Presidium USA, is developing polymers that can be quickly manufactured to any shape. In addition to sports helmets, he says his company’s composites could protect automobiles or serve as anti-ballistic equipment.
“Think about this as a protective pad — it’s totally flexible (but) when it gets hit it turns rock hard, and the minute the impact (energy) goes away, it goes back to flexible … while holding its shape,” LeBlanc said. “No one has been able to come up with this.”
According to the website, Presidium USA composites can be custom-tailored to someone’s needs. Their compatibility guide shows a combination of polymer blends, base polymers, and a wide range of fillers and reinforcements – including silica, talc, K4, glass, glass mat, carbon fiber, Innegra and Kevlar.
“The main strength of the base polymer systems we develop is adhesion,” the website says. “[That] key property allows us to bond to both the fillers we put in the polymer, the woven fabric in composites and the other materials and parts we attach to them.”