DENVER (CBS4)– DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver start-up has continued to make revolutionary changes toward a safer football helmet, and the NFL is helping after giving Impressio nearly $500,000 last month.
“We’re the only company that can make liquid crystal elastomers. That sounds like a mouthful but it’s an energy absorbing material that we think is going to revolutionize not only how we protect our head but also our bodies,” said Chris Yakacki, an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at CU Denver where he used research to start the company Impressio.
The company has been testing helmets in an effort to improve the padding on the inside. Last month the NFL made a third grant to the company to continue its efforts to improve protection for players. The company has revamped its approach since starting in 2018.
“The reason we’re doing that is we’re trying to ultimately reduce the head injury to our football players. We basically have been testing a bunch of these lattices learning a lot about the different structures and their performance,” said Lillian Chathan, an engineer at Impressio. “We think we can use lattices to help reduce the head injuries.”
“Our material is nice, it doesn’t take up a lot of volume, it allows for the breathability, but it absorbs an incredible amount of energy so we need to balance those things. How do you make it comfortable, safe, sexy, all those things mixed together,” Yakacki said.
Through its partnership with CU Denver, the team will be able to design, 3D print, test, and work on models and simulations all in one place. The hope is a streamline process will allow the team to build, test, and study the best materials for a new liner.
“You can now tailor each individual component, not only rapidly, but for the user, the player specifically,” Yakacki said. “The goal is we have a radical improvement in performance.”