Riddell, a subsidiary of Easton-Bell Sports, is known primarily for its quality football helmets used by the NFL, college and high school teams. Its reputation is well-deserved since the company developed the first plastic suspension helmet in 1939 and has continually improved on the design ever since. The company rigorously tests materials and components before they are certified to be used in its products.
In addition to testing against National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), Riddell uses a universal testing machine to measure the tensile strength of materials and finished components that go into football, baseball and lacrosse helmets. Typical tests would be of chin strap webbing and the snaps that attach to the helmet. The straps are tested for tensile strength; they are also tested to see if the teeth on the snap dig in and “deglove” the vinyl coating off the straps.
The lab had been using a vintage analog test machine dating from the 1970s. Consequently, the lab staff had to follow a work routine straight out of the 1970s. Explained Jim Tansey, Director of Quality, “Everything was handwritten and required somebody to watch a needle on a dial and catch it [the test] at the right moment.”
The old analog machine ultimately failed and Tansey began searching for a replacement that, at minimum, had some type of electronic data recording and transfer. The manufacturer of his current equipment was no longer in business and it was determined that a retrofit was not practical.
An ADMET sales engineer visited with a portable version of the eXpert machine and a notebook computer. Tansey was impressed at how easy it was to set up and operate. He made the decision to buy the eXpert 2611 dual column electromechanical testing machine equipped with the MTESTQuattro PC-based controller based on its ease of use, size and price.
MTESTQuattro allows the staff to view multiple tests in the same numeric or graphic report, adding a new dimension to their test analysis. He explained, “We instantly see the comparison- Here’s the new product- Here’s what we’ve specified- We can show somebody the graph without talking numbers. A picture’s worth a thousand words.”