The Pittsburgh Penguins, Covestro, and Athletica introduce new dasher board technology designed to significantly improve player safety in hockey rinksPittsburgh, September 28, 2021 — The Pittsburgh Penguins, Covestro, and Athletica Sport Systems today announced a state-of-the-art dasher board design that has been installed at the Covestro Innovation Rink at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. This prototype 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.
In its first year, the Make-a-thon at Carnegie Mellon focused on rink dasher board design. Dasher boards surround hockey rinks and are used as a boundary; by players playing pucks off the boards in making passes; and checking other players into the boards to separate them from the puck. Hockey is the only major sport with a fixed board boundary so while playing hockey, pucks and players are making frequent contact with the boards, both with high speed and intensity.
Current board design has very little, if any, “give” when a player comes in contact with them. Most rink board design has steel framed elements, flush against a white High-Density Polyethylene board. Some older rinks still actually use steel framed wooden boards.
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,” said Haakan Jonsson, Chairman and President of Covestro LLC. “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.”
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.
“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,” said Andrew McRae, CEO of Athletica Sports Systems. “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.”
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.
David Morehouse, President and CEO of the Penguins, said, “This is a tremendous achievement that will make the game safer. It is very exciting how Covestro, students from CMU, Athletica, and the Pens came together to create a dasher board that has a hard exterior so that the puck behaves the same way, but also has enough give to reduce injury when a person hits the boards during play. It is literally a game changer in making the game safer.”
About Covestro LLC:
Covestro LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance polymers in North America and is part of the global Covestro business, which is among the world’s largest polymer companies with 2020 sales of EUR 10.7 billion. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, electrical and electronics, and healthcare industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 33 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 16,500 people at the end of 2020.
Find more information at www.covestro.us.
About Athletica Sport Systems:
Athletica Sport Systems Inc., a leader in arena services is a designer, manufacturer, and installer of dasher board systems for hockey arenas and multi-sport athletic facilities, serving the professional, semi-pro and community end-markets. Headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, the company also has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Athletica is the Preferred Rink Equipment Supplier to the National Hockey League (NHL), American Hockey League (AHL) and USA Hockey. Athletica Sport Systems Inc. is a Fulcrum Capital Partners portfolio company.
Find more information at www.athletica.com.
Check out this video of the new dasher board technology: https://www.nhl.com/penguins/video/pens-pulse-rethink-the-rink/t-277437428/c-5415105Video courtesy of The Pittsburgh Penguins.
Makrolon® is a registered trademark of Covestro Group.
The Pittsburgh Penguins:
Jennifer Bullano Ridgley
Athletica Sport Systems:
+1 519-747-1856 ext. 235
For further info about the Dasher Boards’ commercial availability
Athletica Sport Systems:
+1 519-747-1856 ext. 260
# # #
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at www.covestro.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.
Editor’s Note: Follow news from Covestro on Twitter: