For Rawlings, the official provider of helmets to Major League Baseball, the S100 Pro Comp is the latest and best attempt at protecting players. Introduced last year, it is fractions of an inch larger and an ounce or so heavier than a traditional helmet. But its carbon fiber shell is also 300 percent stiffer and 130 times stronger than the helmets made with plastic shells that have been the standard for the past several years.
About 200 players, including stars like Carlos Beltran, Matt Kemp and Buster Posey, wore the S100 Pro Comp at some point last season. But starting this spring training, all major league players must wear the helmet, a decision included in the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011. The only exceptions are for the handful of players who wear helmets with earflaps on both sides.The S100 Pro Comp’s biggest innovation is that its hardened shell is designed to provide protection against balls thrown at up to 100 miles per hour, compared to 68 m.p.h. for older helmets. [...]
Rawlings set out to make the S100 smaller and lighter while maintaining its strength by switching to carbon fiber. Carbon fiber, though, is far more expensive than plastic, which can be injected into a mold and removed within minutes. Carbon fiber helmets must be cut from sheets and shaped into a helmet, a time-consuming process. Though Rawlings has since streamlined its manufacturing process, the S100 Pro Comp helmets are about five times more expensive to produce.
Posted: February 20, 2013 at 11:35 AM | 9 comment(s)
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