Friday, June 13, 2008

Creafoam Seat for RML MG Lola

Revolutionary New Creafoam Seat for RML MG Lola

While the RML team was at Snetterton yesterday (March 24) for the final shakedown of the MG Lola EX264 ahead of the official Paul Ricard test next week, a fair amount of time was devoted to sorting out the seating positions for the drivers.

Glen Macdonald of the intriguingly named “Bald Spot Sports” organisation had flown in especially from the States to assist. His company is responsible for developing a totally new seating infill procedure that will see RML’s MG Lola as one of the first applications of the product outside American single-seater racing. Widely used in IRL and Champcar, and imminently under test for use in F1 from next season, the technique is far removed from the familiar two-part foam and a bin-liner method that will have warmed the bottoms of many British racing drivers over the years.

This is a granular system called Creafoam, that is vacuum fitted to the driver. It takes a little longer to set off, allowing the technicians to achieve a near-perfect fit on the first attempt - without the associated heat and discomfort. That’s just the start, however. After some further fittings and adjustment, the prototype seat (that now conforms perfectly to the contours of the driver) is scanned into a computer as a 3D virtual model, and then the final seat is carved from a single block of higher density multiple-impact Creafoam.

The area of the new seat at the back, from shoulders down to the base of the driver’s spine, where the greatest forces are usually concentrated during any (hopefully unlikely) impact, is then removed, and replaced with a “plug” of special single-impact foam that can be removed and replaced after an accident, but it’s very clever stuff . . .

This is the truly significant difference between old and new systems - the way they behave in the event of an accident. The old fashioned foam is very rigid, and offers little cushioning effect on impact. Intense levels of G are generated when a racing car hits the barriers, with readings as high as 80 G having been recorded in exceptional circumstances. While there’s no rattling around like a stone in a tin can with the old system, all those forces are still transferred straight through to the driver, resulting in possible broken bones and the likelihood of internal injury. The new foam responds very differently. During normal racing, when G forces are applied gradually and progressively as the car corners, accelerates or brakes, the infill is rigid and firm, much as is the case with the old two-pack material. In the event of an accident, however, when G forces suddenly increase dramatically, the results are very different. In itself, the multiple impact foam that forms the bulk of the seat is proven to be significantly more effective at absorbing the loads of impact, and also better at preventing intrusion from panels and mechanical parts, but that’s just the start. It’s the ‘plug’ that makes the revolutionary contribution. The whole structure of the material changes on impact, absorbing and dissipating the G forces progressively, cushioning the blow. Tested in situations – real and laboratory – up to 75 G, the Creafoam system works so well that it looks set to become the approved system throughout the top levels of motorsport in the coming seasons.

Dovetailing with the Creafoam seating system, BSS has also developed a seat-belt cushioning technology that is equally revolutionary. Positioned between the conventional webbing and the driver’s shoulders is a strap that looks like glorified bubblewrap. Each bubble is not filled with air, but a putty-like substance that feels a bit like plasticine. Hit it hard, however, and it instantly changes into something with the consistency of soft toothpaste.

Glen Macdonald demonstrated this by placing a strip, about one centimeter thick, onto the concrete floor of the Snetterton garage. He then proceeded to punch this, very hard, with his knuckled fist. He didn’t even wince, although it looked as though he ought to have been in excruciating pain. Impressive stuff.

BSS is now starting to supply to the UK, so anyone else looking for an effective seat and safety system can find out more by checking the website at RML will be representing the company in Europe, so first enquiries to RML - +44 1933 402440
Marcus Potts

Laser Scanning Improves Indy Racing League Driver Protection Development

Taken from

Improvements in laser scanning have facilitated the creation of a new protective seat fabrication process for Indy Racing League (IRL) cars. IRL drivers are required to be surrounded by cocoon-like seats designed to protect them during crashes at speeds in excess of 220 mph. The seats are constructed from beaded foam that helps to absorb the gravitational forces that would typically impact the driver, causing injury.

In the past, the driver would sit on top of a bag filled with Expanded Polystyrene beads and resin to leave an exact imprint of their most comfortable driving position. Serving as a human mold, the driver would have to remain motionless for more than an hour until the seat had cured. It is important to have each driver provide the mold for his or her own custom seat design since the quality of the fit improves the seat’s protective abilities during a crash. Every time a car is involved in an accident or a driver switches to a different car, a new seat must be created.

Using laser scanning, Createc Corporation, a supplier of beaded foam, and Bald Spot Sports, a manufacturer of custom racing seats, both located in Indianapolis, IN, have simplified the seat fabrication process. With CAD software, these companies create a 3D virtual reality blueprint of each custom race seat that perfectly fits a driver with each repeated fabrication. Laser scanning the initial foam bead seat model prior to its installation into the racecar creates this blueprint.

Rather than purchasing a laser scanner, the two companies are working with a service bureau called Laser Design, Minneapolis, MN, to provide the required high levels of scanning accuracy and the fast turnaround demanded by the racing industry. Replacement seats are cut using CNC machinery.

“The new process allows us to produce better seats because drivers can obtain duplicates of a seat that fits them perfectly. Before they took the chance that the results of a new seat-fitting process could leave them with a less comfortable seat that would ultimately hurt their performance,” said Cameron Cobb, business development manager for Createc. “Additionally, as seat builders, the new CNC and laser scanning technologies allow us to create seats that provide greater impact resistance because they can be constructed out of new materials that are more compatible with the new molding process.”

The seat-fitting process

Bald Spot Sports produces custom-molded seats for open-wheel IRL racing. Bringing more than 20 years of experience crafting protective race gear to their new products, the team at Bald Spot is continually working to improve the performance and safety of IRL drivers, while reducing the time invested in the process.

The single seat fitting begins by filling a bag with small foam beads, each about 1/8 in. in diameter. Resin is added to the bag to mix with the bead, then the bag is placed into the empty tub of the racecar chassis, and the driver assumes the preferred racing position while sitting on the bag. Bald Spot must ensure that the beads in the bag are able to cover all the critical areas around the legs, back, shoulders and neck, in order to meet published IRL safety standards. A vacuum is applied to the bag while the seat is curing to make sure that the integrity of the preferred seat fit is maintained.

The driver then climbs out of the car after an hour, as the material finishes hardening. Full cure can take up to eight hours. Bald Spot’s seat fabricator trims all the excess material from the bag, a task that typically takes about three hours. The driver returns to double check the seat by climbing back into the car and performing a trial fit. Material is removed from the mold only where the removal gives the driver the freedom needed to steer, shift and work the pedals. This process can take up to another four to five hours. The driver again returns to the seat while the fabricator attaches the head and neck restraint system and the driver evaluates the (hopefully) final fit.

Search for a new approach

The long and painstaking seat fabrication process provides the exact fit required for a safe and comfortable seat. However, the seats produced using this method are designed to protect the driver against only a single impact. Thus, a driver must have a new seat after every accident, which IRL fans know happen all too often. In the past, the entire process of fitting the seat would need to be repeated after every crash. The hassle of the fitting can be compounded after a crash when a driver is injured or experiencing pain, which prevents one from finding or maintaining the most comfortable, preferred race position. Also, it is almost impossible to exactly duplicate that position. Besides the time and expense, a seat with a bad fit can hurt driver performance and risk lessening driver safety.

Engineers at Createc and Bald Spot teamed up to improve this seat design process because they believed they would be able to use a new foam bead formulation to better protect drivers while also eliminating the need for multiple seat fittings. The only piece they were missing was the laser scanning capability to create and store the 3D models required for the CNC machining process.

Scanning technology generates an electronic file that defines complex geometry to such high levels of accuracy that the traditional fitting process is no longer necessary. Laser scanners are able to quickly measure large parts while generating far greater numbers of data points than touch probes, without the need for templates or fixtures. The systems project laser light onto surfaces while cameras continuously triangulate the changing distance and profile of the laser as it sweeps along, enabling the object to be accurately replicated. Since there is no probe on a laser scanner that must physically touch the object, the problems of depressing soft objects and measuring small cavities are eliminated.

How the new process works

The Bald Spot fabricator now uses a portable laser scanner to create a CAD file that perfectly duplicates the seat’s shape. If the driver already has a seat that he likes, then a fitting is not required at all. Instead, the seat itself can be sent to the service bureau for scanning to produce a highly accurate CAD file. The CAD file is used to create a CNC program for a machining center that will carve the seat out of a single block of multiple impact foam.

Using a machine center to carve out the seat makes it possible to use new materials that are rated better for multiple impacts. These new foams provide greater impact resistance and eliminate the need for replacement after minor impacts. Createc has identified a special material — Creasorb, a lightweight, closed-cell foam material — as well suited for racing seats. This resilient material provides excellent shock absorption, withstands multiple impacts, and resists the various chemicals and solvents that are used in the racing industry.

Finding the right service bureau

After making the decision to use laser scanning, Createc and Bald Spot Sports considered purchasing a laser scanning system but decided that it didn’t make sense to purchase a laser scanner at this early stage of the project. “Laser scanning technology is rapidly improving, and we were concerned that our lack of experience with the technology might lead us to a purchase that we would regret later,” Cobb said. “We looked for a service bureau that could guide us through the process while providing the high levels of accuracy and fast turnaround that we need. Unfortunately, our first few attempts in working with service bureaus were not very successful due to their lack of responsiveness. However, the first time we contacted Laser Design, they demonstrated that they had all the capabilities that we needed and were totally dedicated to our success.”

“The project began when one of the drivers in the Indy 500 asked us to provide a duplicate of his current seat,” Cobb continued. “He made the request during race qualification. He could only spare the current seat during a two-day window between his completion of qualifying and the day of the final practice. Needless to say, if we had not returned his original seat to his garage in time due to an unresponsive service bureau, our reputation would have suffered. The day the driver finished qualifying, a member of Bald Spot’s staff took the seat and flew to Laser Design in Minneapolis. Their team scanned the seat the next day, and the Bald Spot crewmember flew back that same night, returning the seat to the driver in plenty of time for the race. Laser Design spent that day converting the scanner-generated point cloud into a surface model. They sent it back to us by the end of the day via email. We produced the additional seat for the driver over the next several days. This extraordinary level of service is actually what we have come to expect on an everyday basis from this highly responsive compa

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reolutionary Creasorb Seat now available from RML

RML Appointed BSS Distributor.

RML Group and Bald Spot Sports (BSS) have joined forces to distribute a revolutionary custom-made race seat system throughout Europe.

BSS seats are made with an advanced foam technology which offers safety benefits unrivalled by other products on the market. With the appointment of RML as its exclusive European distributor these products are now available to teams and outlets in the UK and across continental Europe.

Based in Indiana, USA, BSS produces the technologically superior Creafoam™ Single-Impact and Creasorb™ Multi-Impact race seats which are supplied to professional teams, drivers and race enthusiasts across the States.

The Single-Impact seat curing process is less time-critical and therefore enables a near perfect fit for the driver to be achieved at the first attempt. The seat not only surrounds and holds the occupant securely in place but during impact it limits movement relative to the vehicle while better absorbing the shock-load and has reduced the number and severity of injuries received during race and testing incidents.

The Multi-Impact seat offers all the benefits of the above but has even greater impact resilience, especially where high-speed secondary impacts occur. After absorbing the energy of an initial impact the seat instantly returns to its original shape and integrity. After electronically scanning a driver’s existing seat (or one created specially using Creafoam™) to create a 3D model the seat is then precisely machined from material called Creasorb™, recreating both the inner and outer seat shapes precisely. The area under the driver’s shoulders to the base of the spine is then cut out and replaced with a central insert plug. In the instance of a heavy impact the central plug can be removed and replaced with a new custom made insert for added security. The 3D computer model is kept on file and enables an insert or complete seat to be re-ordered without the driver having to be available for a time consuming re-fit.

RML welcome UK enquiries and European Trade enquiries. Please contact Guy Ruthven for more information:
Tel: +44 1933 402440 or email: Guy Ruthven.

About RML

RML’s 4,300 square metre facility is based in Northamptonshire, England and includes full design, development, manufacturing and operational support for international race/rally programmes and automotive engineering projects. The organisation has achieved championship success in a diverse range of motorsport categories including GT/sportscars, touring cars, rally cars, single seaters and oval speedway cars. In 2006 RML teams will compete in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with Chevrolet and in the Le Mans Endurance Series. The company took LMP2 class honours in the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours with an MG-Lola EX264.

For further information please access

About Bald Spot Sports

Bald Spot Sports (BSS), headquartered in Indianapolis, USA, is actively engaged in the production of technologically superior foam racing seats for professional race drivers and private race enthusiasts. BSS has made custom foam seats for the world’s foremost drivers in a variety of racing series including Nascar, Indy Racing League, Grand Am, Formula Atlantic, Formula BMW, FIA/Le Mans, NHRA and SCCA/Vintage Racing.

For further information please access

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bead Seat Kit Directions




4035 Perry Road/ Perry Industrial Park / Whitestown, IN / 46075 USA
Phone 317.769.5870 Toll-Free 1.877.BSS.SEAT Fax 317.769.5872


Bald Spot Sports Box Seat Kits are offered in five sizes. In determining the size you need, consider the make of your racecar, the available space to fill in the cockpit or tub, and the body mass of your driver.

While all BSS kits arrive with a generous amount of foam bead compared to the competitors, the main difference in the sizes is the amount of bead and the size of the vacuum seat bag.

While it is easy to remove extra seat material after construction, having way too much will only make it difficult for you to get the best fit and race position for your driver. If you would like help determining the best size for your racecar or you are interested in having a CUSTOM SEAT KIT created for you, please call our experts at 1-877-BSS-SEAT.

You really can do this one yourself. It only takes about a day to fit and a day to finish.

Step 1 Clear / cover all sharp objects or edges in the cockpit using duct tape. Use small cardboard pieces to cover anything tape won’t cover by itself.

Step 2 Mix resins “A” and “B” thoroughly in the bucket provided.

Step 3 Open vacuum seat bag and pour mixed resins into the bag.

Step 4 Attach the vent tube with breather cloth to the corner of the seat bag. Seal the top of the bag with provided sealer tape.

Step 5 Knead (mix) Creafoam beads and resins together in the sealed bag. Make sure the consistency of the beads starts to become “thick.”

Step 6 Once beads are well-coated with resin, lay out the seat bag on the floor.

Step 7 Attach vacuum source while the bag is still on the floor. Apply enough vacuum pressure to make the bag firm enough to be picked up and placed into the cockpit tub (Approximately 3 lbs. of vacuum).

Step 8 Keep the seat bag under vacuum. Pick up the vacuum seat bag and place it into cockpit of car.

Step 9 Disperse the beads evenly throughout the tub area before the driver gets into the car.

Push aside as many beads from the “floor” area of the tub as possible.

Step 10 Have the driver enter the cockpit carefully. Position him/her directly over the top of where he/she will sit.

Have the driver sit down and remove the vacuum.

Step 11 Have the driver slowly grind while sitting from left to right and front to back to disperse the beads out around the driver. Make sure to leave enough beads behind driver.

Step 12 Start the vacuum again. Smooth out any wrinkles from bag while at the same time moving any dispersed beads evenly along the lateral areas of the body (leg, torso and rib area).

Step 13 Make sure your driver is in position and comfortable. Have the driver maintain that same position for no less than 35 minutes.

Step 14 After 35 minutes, help your driver carefully exit the seat. Be careful not to step or lean on the seat.

Step 15 Allow the seat to cure under vacuum for approximately 3 hours. Warmer temperatures speed up the curing time.

Step 16 Remove the vacuum. For seat to fully cure allow 6 – 7 hours.

Step 17 Once your seat has cured, cut the excess material away from shift linkage and any areas that might obstruct your driver’s movement while driving the car.

Brace Yourself

It's coming at you fast, 200 mph, maybe more. It's the line you're trying to hold. It's wide open. Everything's riding on this moment. What are you riding on?

Bald Spot Sports and Createc Corporation are changing the way racing feels. With more than 30 years of experience, we're using patented foam technology and revolutionary materials to create a racing seat that exhibits greater force absorption while using less material.

And we're continuing to develop new products utilizing impact and force data collected during ongoing research and development with Createc.

Turn to the experts driving the industry - Bald Spot Sports