AT TEAM WENDY … IT’S PER­SONAL

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At Team Wendy, busi­ness is per­sonal. De­ci­sions are made in part to honor the le­gacy of Wendy Moore, with an ever-present goal of pre­vent­ing TBI in the men and women we pro­tect so that their loved ones don’t feel the same void as our founder and his fam­ily. We have a large ban­ner on our man­u­fac­tur­ing floor that says, “The work you do ev­ery day saves lives.” You can feel that sense of pride and value in the work we do sim­ply by talk­ing to the mem­bers of our team. She is al­ways with us, and we know she would be proud of the work her le­gacy in­spired. — Jose Rizo-pa­tron

Q: De­scribe the mod­ern bal­lis­tic hel­met.

A: Mod­ern bal­lis­tic hel­mets are typ­i­cally a com­pos­ite ma­trix that en­cap­su­lates high-strength fibers. The fibers “catch” a pro­jec­tile sim­i­lar to the way a base­ball mitt catches a ball, but ob­vi­ously these are deal­ing with much higher en­er­gies.

The spe­cific “recipe” of a hel­met is pro­pri­etary to each man­u­fac­turer, but the fiber uti­lized in the new­est and light­est hel­mets is pri­mar­ily ul­tra­high molecular weight poly­eth­yl­ene (UHMWPE), due to its high strengthto-weight ra­tio. Most law en­force­ment units re­quire that their bal­lis­tic hel­mets stop pro­jec­tiles spec­i­fied as level IIIA ac­cord­ing to NIJ STD 0108.01/0101. This means that the hel­met will stop a 9mm FMJ RN, a .357 SIG FMJ FN and .44 Mag­num SJHP.

In ad­di­tion, most mil­i­tary hel­mets are re­quired to stop a va­ri­ety of frag­men­ta­tion (dif­fer­ent sizes and ve­loc­i­ties) and pro­vide blunt im­pact pro­tec­tion.

Q: In gen­eral, how have hel­mets changed through the years?

Prior to the 1960s, hel­mets were pre­dom­i­nantly made of steel and in­tended only to stop frag­men­ta­tion. Dupont later in­tro­duced a ma­te­rial called aramid fiber, which would be­come known by the trade­mark Kevlar, and is now syn­ony­mous with “bul­let­proof ma­te­rial.” Kevlar hel­mets be­came the stan­dard from the mid-1980s un­til the early 2000s and al­lowed hel­mets to stop com­mon hand­gun bul­lets, in ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing frag­men­ta­tion pro­tec­tion. More re­cently, the in­tro­duc­tion of poly­eth­yl­ene shells made for a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in weight while still main­tain­ing bal­lis­tic per­for­mance.

“TEAM WENDY WAS FOUNDED … AS A MEMO­RIAL TO HIS DAUGH­TER, WENDY, WHO PASSED AWAY FROM A TRAU­MATIC BRAIN IN­JURY (TBI).”

Q: How will hel­mets be dif­fer­ent in 5 or 10 years?

A: His­tor­i­cally, the hel­met has been worn to serve a sin­gle pur­pose—to pro­vide bal­lis­tic pro­tec­tion. These days, we’re equally fo­cused on cre­at­ing sys­tems-based hel­mets that al­low the user more seam­less in­te­gra­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems, NODS, etc. Sys­tems in­te­gra­tion will con­tinue to be a fo­cus for hel­mets serv­ing elite users in the com­ing years, and we will con­tinue to con­cen­trate on the de­vel­op­ment of new and evolv­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties that al­low our prod­ucts to bet­ter serve that func­tion while of­fer­ing op­ti­mal pro­tec­tion. Fur­ther, the in­dus­try con­tin­ues to look at new ma­te­ri­als and ways to man­u­fac­ture them to con­tinue to drive down weight while in­creas­ing pro­tec­tion.

Q: What makes Team Wendy’s hel­mets dif­fer­ent?

A: Rather than fo­cus­ing on the shell, we be­gin the de­sign process for our hel­mets from the in­side out, lever­ag­ing our vast ex­pe­ri­ence in blunt im­pact pro­tec­tion. Be­cause we fo­cused ex­clu­sively on per­fect­ing our pad set of­fer­ing and our patented CAM FIT Re­ten­tion Sys­tem for a few years, the fit and com­fort of our hel­mets is sec­ond to none. Our CAM FIT dis­perses pres­sure evenly around the cir­cum­fer­ence of the head, elim­i­nat­ing pres­sure points that typ­i­cally arise when a re­ten­tion sys­tem only locks in at two points.

It’s not just the de­sign of the pad­ding and re­ten­tion, but sig­nif­i­cant fo­cus is also given to the form of our hel­met shells. By study­ing the an­thro­pom­e­try of head sizes and er­gonomics of com­fort­able fit, we de­vel­oped a unique siz­ing scheme that uses ad­justable com­fort pads to pro­vide a bet­ter, more op­ti­mized fit than the tra­di­tional four-shell size ap­proach, with the side ben­e­fit of mak­ing siz­ing sim­pler for those procur­ing the hel­met.

Our bal­lis­tic hel­met also has a unique and dis­tinc­tive shape that un­like most bal­lis­tic hel­mets is not round, which makes it im­me­di­ately rec­og­niz­able as an “EXFIL” and passes the ever im­por­tant “mir­ror test.” While op­ti­mal pro­tec­tion and fit are al­ways our top pri­or­i­ties, we are con­stantly think­ing about how the hel­met plat­form can be used most ef­fec­tively to in­te­grate other tech­nol­ogy, such as lights, com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems, NODS, etc. while balanc­ing loads. We pride our­selves on of­fer­ing scal­able hel­met sys­tems for elite op­er­a­tors that al­low them to scale up or down for the mis­sion re­quire­ment. They may not need to utilize ev­ery fea­ture of our hel­mets on a daily ba­sis, but when they do, our sys­tems-based hel­mets en­sure that they are ready.

Q: De­scribe the test­ing process.

A: All of our hel­mets, whether bal­lis­tic or non-bal­lis­tic, un­dergo ex­ten­sive in­ter­nal and third-party test­ing to en­sure that they meet the nec­es­sary re­quire­ments we’re try­ing to meet, be it for bal­lis­tics, moun­taineer­ing, white wa­ter, alpine, etc.

Our EXFIL Bal­lis­tic hel­met meets the third-party Nij-ac­cred­i­ta­tion at level IIIA ac­cord­ing to NIJ STD 0106.01

/ 0108.01, which means that the hel­met will stop com­mon hand­gun threats. In ad­di­tion to stop­ping the rounds, we also mea­sure for back­face sig­na­ture/de­for­ma­tion. At 1,4001,450 ft/sec, a 9mm FMJ RN must pro­duce less than 25mm of back­face sig­na­ture/de­for­ma­tion on an NIJ clay head­form to be ac­cept­able to Team Wendy’s stan­dards.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the hel­met is tested for re­sis­tance to frag­men­ta­tion that may be ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing blast re­lated events. This is sim­u­lated us­ing a stan­dard­ized cylin­dri­cal pro­jec­tile and tested to see at what ve­loc­ity the pro­jec­tile is ex­pected to pen­e­trate the shell 50% of the time. This is a stan­dard­ized ar­mor test method known as the V50 value, and for our hel­met is ≥ 2,400 ft/sec for the 17gr pro­jec­tile.

For im­pact test­ing we utilize in­ter­nal in­stru­mented drop tow­ers in ac­cor­dance with a va­ri­ety of mil­i­tary, De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOT) and sport hel­met stan­dards. Hel­mets are placed onto a head­form and dropped from a set height onto a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent sur­faces while the ac­cel­er­a­tion/de­cel­er­a­tion of the head­form is mea­sured. For our bal­lis­tic and car­bon hel­mets, they meet and ex­ceed the ACH blunt im­pact pro­tec­tion re­quire­ments of < 150G peak ac­cel­er­a­tion when im­pacted at 10 ft/sec—our bal­lis­tic av­er­ages less than 70G across all tem­per­a­tures and lo­ca­tions. While a per­fect cor­re­la­tion be­tween ac­cel­er­a­tion and brain in­jury doesn’t ex­ist, this is still be­low many sug­gested ac­cel­er­a­tion lev­els that could be as­so­ci­ated with con­cus­sion. Each test hel­met is im­pacted 14 times; two times each in seven lo­ca­tions, at cold (14°F), am­bi­ent (68°F) and hot (130°F) con­di­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally, we per­form other test­ing within the MIL-STD-810 test suite, such as UV light ex­po­sure, high-al­ti­tude ex­po­sure, blow­ing sand ex­po­sure, vi­bra­tion test­ing, re­sis­tance to chem­i­cals and field agents, and salt wa­ter im­mer­sion. Other, less quan­ti­ta­tive test­ing, in­volves test­ing our hel­mets with an ever-chang­ing land­scape of ac­ces­sories and at­tach­ments to en­sure users have as many op­tions as pos­si­ble when set­ting up their hel­met.

Q: What else comes to mind?

A: Our mis­sion is to re­search, de­sign, de­velop and de­liver the most in­no­va­tive, pur­pose-built and im­pact-mit­i­gat­ing prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies on the mar­ket. We place a strong fo­cus on re­search, par­tic­u­larly the causes and preven­tion of TBI. Ac­cord­ing to the CDC, an es­ti­mated 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple sus­tain a trau­matic brain in­jury (TBI) an­nu­ally. Of them, 1.365 mil­lion are treated and re­leased from an emer­gency de­part­ment, while 275,000 are hos­pi­tal­ized and 52,000 don’t sur­vive. TBI is a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to nearly one-third (30.5%) of all in­jury-re­lated deaths in the United States. About 75% of TBIS that oc­cur each year are con­cus­sions or other forms of mild trau­matic brain in­jury (MTBI).

Team Wendy has joined forces with Brown Univer­sity, Drexel Univer­sity and San­dia Na­tional Lab­o­ra­to­ries to con­duct com­pre­hen­sive re­search on trau­matic brain in­jury.

“… THE IN­DUS­TRY CON­TIN­UES TO LOOK AT NEW MA­TE­RI­ALS AND WAYS TO MAN­U­FAC­TURE THEM TO CON­TINUE TO DRIVE DOWN WEIGHT WHILE IN­CREAS­ING PRO­TEC­TION.”

With a $4.75-mil­lion grant from the Of­fice of Naval Re­search, the three-year study aims to pro­duce new in­sights into how trau­matic in­juries form in the brain and de­velop new hel­met tech­nolo­gies to help pre­vent them. Ac­com­plish­ing that will re­quire a com­pre­hen­sive, mul­ti­level un­der­stand­ing of how forces are trans­mit­ted from a hel­met to the skull, from the skull through brain tis­sue, and ul­ti­mately to the in­di­vid­ual neu­rons and ax­ons that are dam­aged lead­ing to TBI.

To achieve this, the ef­fort brings to­gether re­search span­ning from the mi­cro­scopic level of brain cells to the macro­scopic level of hel­mets and is in­cred­i­bly unique in that re­spect. Our team leads work on the macro­scopic scale, de­vel­op­ing an in­te­grated sen­sor sys­tem within the pad­ding of a hel­met that is ca­pa­ble of mea­sur­ing linear and an­gu­lar ac­cel­er­a­tions, as well as force dis­tri­bu­tions ex­pe­ri­enced across the skull dur­ing im­pact. The sys­tem will be ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing mea­sure­ments in a lab set­ting, such as when on a test head­form, and even­tu­ally on a hu­man wearer.

As pre­vi­ously men­tioned, there is cur­rently no per­fect cor­re­la­tion to de­ter­mine whether a brain in­jury will re­sult from a given head im­pact. The aim of this ef­fort is to de­velop a de­tailed brain in­jury model so data col­lected via the hel­met can be used to pre­dict like­li­hood of in­jury fol­low­ing an im­pact to the head.

With a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how trau­matic brain in­juries oc­cur, the study is also work­ing to im­prove hel­met test­ing meth­ods and de­velop new ma­te­ri­als and de­signs for the next gen­er­a­tion of hel­mets and pro­tec­tive equip­ment. TW

Above: The EXFIL Bal­lis­tic SL is avail­able in black, coy­ote brown, ranger green and multi- cam.

Walk onto the man­u­fac­tur­ing floor at Team Wendy, and you’ll find a ban­ner that says, “The work you do ev­ery day saves lives.”

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