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Introducing InFlex™ flexible dasher board facing. A new development in rink safety.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, Covestro, and Athletica Sport Systems announced a state-of-the-art dasher board design has been installed at the Covestro Innovation Rink at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

InFlex™ flexible dasher board facing is not only significantly safer for players, but it does not impede the normal puck play off the boards or around the boards. The new technology is shown to provide up to 65% improvement in energy absorption when a player hits the boards using scientific testing of acceleration, force and impact.

Now commercially available, the new dasher board design is the first product that was designed in a unique collaboration among the Pittsburgh Penguins, Covestro (a global material science company), and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) called “Rethink the Rink.” This annual Make-a-thon project uses the technology innovation of CMU and its students combined with the high-tech material science expertise of Covestro engineers, and the game winning insight of the Pittsburgh Penguins, to advance the safety of the game of hockey.

The winning student team’s concept has increased flexibility and movement with a new facing material, comprising Covestro’s Makrolon® polycarbonate sheeting over a nominal aluminum 6” frame that was modified to allow a polyurethane foam dampening element between new aluminum framing and the boards. This polyurethane foam was made with Covestro raw materials. The combination of sheeting, materials and framing allows the boards to flex when hit with mass but remain stiff when hit by pucks.

In other words, instead of hitting a solid steel framed wall, the newly designed boards absorb and disperse a portion of the impact when skated into by a player, but remain stiff when a puck makes contact.

Make-a-thon and the new hockey rink dasher board application is a testament to how we can combine material science and leading minds to problem solve. It is a great example of how innovation and collaboration come to life. This is a win for the collaborative venture between the Pens, Covestro, Athletica Sport Systems and CMU. And we expect more safety improvements to come from future Make-a-thons.

Haakan JonssonChairman and President of Covestro LLC.

The concept was prototyped and tested by dasher board manufacturer Athletica Sport Systems using an automotive standard. Testing on the system showed significant increase in absorption on impact. The new dasher board prototype also showed up to 65% improvement in some of the key metrics of injury criterion such as acceleration and force. In comparison to the traditional steel frame design under the same impact characteristics there is a 150%-450% increase in deflection, which leads to energy absorption within the board system. This is a significant improvement and facilitates distribution of the impact velocity by 40-50 milliseconds.

Sections of the new board system were installed at the Covestro Innovation Rink at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex for use by amateur players and testing will continue to ensure consistency.

With Safety through Innovation being our brand promise and as a Preferred Rink Equipment Supplier to the NHL, the AHL, and USA Hockey, we were very interested to be involved in this endeavor. Our greatest differentiator is our ability to innovate and listen to our customers, so we made the necessary changes to the original Rethink the Rink concepts to ensure the boards could be properly manufactured. It is rewarding to see the new, safer board in action.

Andrew McRaeCEO Athletica Sport Systems Inc.
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