By Karl Maurer, DuPont Performance Polymers, U.S.
Reinforced Polyamide For Protecting Drivers And the Environment
The latest HANS head and neck support device for racing drivers, from HANS Performance Products (HPP) of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, uses renewably-sourced DuPont™ Zytel® RS reinforced polyamide to deliver needed impact resistance while significantly reducing weight.
The HANS Sport II, molded by HiPer Technology Inc., is the lightest ever Sports Series HANS Device and is an impressive 30% lighter than the previous Sport model. "Weight is absolutely critical in motor sports applications," explains Christopher Bovis, vice president of marketing, HiPer Technology, Inc., in Lawrence, Kansas. "We worked very closely with DuPont Performance Polymers as they developed a new grade of Zytel® RS that maintained the strength and stiffness needed to surpass all national and international safety standards."
The grade of Zytel® RS used is a toughened carbon-fiber/glass-fiber reinforced polyamide with excellent tensile strength, tensile modulus, flex modulus, impact strength and elongation. The polyamide compound also has better chemical and moisture resistance versus PA66, making it an attractive "eco-conscious" choice for applications at temperatures below 120°C. Zytel® RS products are made from non-food based renewable sources.
"With Zytel® RS, the physical properties and ease of production have allowed HiPer and HANS Performance Products to produce a smaller and lighter HANS Device with integrated features that make exiting a car in an emergency a faster process," says Bovis. "As one of the easiest composite resins we have molded at HiPer, Zytel® RS flows very well. The composite is predictable, repeatable and produces an excellent surface finish."
According to Gary Milgrom, vice president, HANS Performance Products, the adoption of Zytel® has helped extend the market for the HANS Device to a broader range of racing drivers: "Using Zytel® RS to injection mold this HANS Device enabled us to continue to make the same protection enjoyed by champions in major series around the world available at a reasonable price." The only difference between the Sport and Professional models is its weight.
The HANS Device was invented by Robert Hubbard, Ph.D., a professor of biomechanical engineering at Michigan State University, in conjunction with his brother-in-law, champion racing driver Jim Downing. Their goal was to reduce the potential of serious and fatal injuries. Today, the device is used by drivers in all major racing series around the world, including NASCAR®, CART, Formula 1™ and NHRA®, and was described by U.S. magazine Car and Driver as "The best safety device since the seat belt." More than 140,000 HANS Devices have been sold worldwide since first coming to market in 1990. In the ensuing years, HPP has received hundreds of testimonials from star drivers such as Jeff Gordon and recreational race drivers about the life-saving effectiveness of the HANS Device.