Saturday, June 04, 2011

NY TIMES Article Regarding our work with Child Safety Seats

Wheels - The Nuts and Bolts of Whatever Moves You

June 3, 2011, 11:31 am
Child Safety Seats With a Racing Pedigree

A prototype of the Dorel safety seat, which employs foam technology commonly found in IndyCar racecar seats.Dorel Juvenile GroupA prototype of the Dorel safety seat, which employs foam technology commonly found in IndyCar racecar seats.

You have to wonder why nobody thought of this before.

Watching IndyCar drivers walk away from 200 m.p.h. crashes, executives at Dorel, the child car seat manufacturer, asked whether the technologies that protected racecar drivers in crashes could be applied to child safety seats.

A collaboration with an IndyCar supplier is bearing out answers. Dorel is developing seats that use a proprietary foam used in IndyCar seats called expanded polypropylene, or E.P.P., which is proven to be more resilient and shock absorbent than other foams.

E.P.P. is one of only two foams approved for use in IndyCar seats, and it is the one that is preferred, said Jeff Horton, director of engineering for the Indy Racing League, the body responsible for safety research. “We promote the E.P.P. 100 percent,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s the best crash absorption we have.”

The foam’s function in crashes is twofold. Many foams compress only in the spot where pressure is applied, while others spread the impact but crush down and cannot spring back. E.P.P., developed for seat applications by Bald Spot Sports, the sole manufacturer and supplier of E.P.P. seats to IndyCar, spreads impact throughout the foam, so pressure in a single spot is absorbed in the neighboring foam as well.

Secondly, the foam springs back, ready for additional impact. “It’s great for multihit situations,” Mr. Horton said.

“We tested probably 30 types of material, and when we got down to the type of material, we tested different density,” said Travis Cobb, a partner in Bald Spot Sports. “We crashed a lot of cars.”

The E.P.P. also provides a bonus for fatigued parents. Because E.P.P. does not require a resin glue to lock the foam molecules in place, the foam weighs less than other varieties, said Mr. Horton, who has been privy to the development of the Dorel prototypes. “I’ve seen the baby seats, and they are very light,” he said.

Dorel was in the news more recently for a recall of 800,000 child seats for a condition where the harnesses may loosen. No injuries have been attributed to the harness issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which prompted the recall, said at the time, “Dorel doesn’t have a disproportionate number of recalls.”

The E.P.P. seats are still in development and will become available in 2012, said Barry Mahal, the executive vice president of child restraint systems for the Dorel Juvenile Group.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Companies work with racing technology to improve child safety seats


The same technology that saved IndyCar driver Simona De Silvestro from serious injury in a recent crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway might soon be helping protect children in car seats.

Dorel Juvenile Group, a car-seat manufacturer, is partnering with racing-product developers at Bald Spot Sports to use cockpit material that insulates racers from crashes in child-safety technology. Dorel makes child-safety items under brand names such as Safety 1st and Cosco. Bald Spot Sports has produced materials for IndyCar and NASCAR use.

Dorel and Bald Spot are looking to improve child safety seats by using the same materials that cocooned Silvestro in the cockpit and protected other racers in 200-mph crashes.

About 80 percent of IndyCar drivers and those on other professional circuits such as NASCAR are using the foam technology the companies want to adopt.

According to Dorel, preliminary tests show the molding process and absorption of the material--combined with the geometrical shape it assumes when applied in child seats--allows side impact to be directed away from the child in unprecedented ways. It is a different type of foam technology than what is currently used in safety seats, with more flexible and complex properties.

"For years, we have been helping professional racers manage the risk that comes with the speed and adrenaline rush of their profession," said Travis Cobb, partner with Bald Spot Sports. "We are excited to explore how we can bring this technology to protecting kids every day."

The product is still in development and it is not clear when it will be available. Research for the project is under way at Dorel's car-seat manufacturing campus in Columbus, Ind. Bald Spot is headquartered nearby, in Indianapolis.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bald Spot Sports Takes Front Row at Indianapolis 500 Announces Qualifiers Racing in BSS Custom Race Seats

Brownsburg, Indiana – May 2011 – Bald Spot Sports, LLC, [BSS] announced that 26 out of the 33 drivers who qualified for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 will be driving in BSS custom foam bead race seats when they start their engines Sunday.

BSS manufactures two different custom seat products to absorb impact forces before they act on the body of a racecar driver during a collision. Seats are manufactured using technology exclusive to BSS and molded from two new specialty foams, CreafoamTM and ARPROTM.

CreafoamTM seats, which offer greater proven force deadening properties than a standard generic expanded polystyrene seat offered by many of the competitors, are designed to absorb the forces acting on the driver during a single impact.

ARPROTM foam seats, which have greater elasticity, absorb impact and return to the initial shape with greater integrity. Areas can be carved out of the neck and back areas of the elastic seat to create room for foam stability plugs to be inserted. The CreafoamTM plugs, when inserted, are designed to offer maximum stability and force deadening during a single impact. These seats can offer greater support for the driver during secondary impacts continuing to act on the car after the primary collision. The entire front row of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 owns ARPROTM multi-impact race seats.

About Bald Spot Sports

Bald Spot Sports [BSS] is headquartered in the suburbs of the racing capital of Indianapolis, Indiana.

BSS is actively engaged in the production of technologically superior racing seats, head surrounds and helmet liners for professional auto racers and private enthusiasts and continually works with independent labs to test innovative foam products.