From the Battlefield to the Sports Field: Ballistics Test Lab Supports TBI R&D

Figure 1:  Chesapeake Testing’s Monorail Blunt Impact Tower.

Figure 1: Chesapeake Testing’s Monorail Blunt Impact Tower.

By Brian Wessel, Communications Manager Chesapeake Testing
Traditionally a provider of ballistic and nondestructive testing of military and law enforcement equipment, Chesapeake Testing is a Maryland-based independent test lab that is now extending its reach into the sports testing market. The lab is leveraging its extensive expertise in personal body armor (including helmet and armored vest) testing, as well as its state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, to test safety equipment designs intended to help prevent/reduce sports-related injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

The lab’s efforts are in accordance with the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), which regulates the safety of all sports equipment used by professional athletes, youth organizations, and recreational sports enthusiasts.

“We are determined to meet standards that employ the latest technology, rather than just doing the same old thing,” said Cameron Showell, the head of Chesapeake’s Sports Testing Department. “This work is really part of a new generation in thinking and not what was done 20 years ago.”

Among the advanced equipment that the lab is using in its sports testing efforts are an in-house monorail blunt impact tower (Figure 1), a twin-wire drop tower (Figure 2), and an air cannon, which can launch baseballs, hockey pucks, and various sports projectiles at speeds exceeding 200 mph.

Figure 2:  Chesapeake Testing’s Twin-Wire Drop Tower.

Figure 2:  Chesapeake Testing’s Twin-Wire Drop Tower.

The lab also offers specialized x-ray computed tomography (XCT) services, allowing manufacturers to get a detailed look at the inside of their products in support of pre-production quality control and post-test analysis. The large walk-in bay, 450-kV micro-focus XCT system is one of the most powerful XCT systems in use today, enabling objects up to 37 inches in diameter to be imaged with extremely high resolution. The system can also be combined with Chesapeake’s other XCT systems and processing and visualization tools to support not only athletic equipment manufacturers but also customers throughout the DoD and other industries.