Protect the Boys BY MATTHEW COLONERO

Today's material of the day is polycarbonate lexan. Articular cartilage is a fascinating and complex material: without it you would not be able to move without pain. You will learn that articular cartilage has one of the lowest friction coefficients and that its structure and composition are responsible for it. This is very relevant to the main purpose of this course: understanding the relationship between a material's properties and its structure.

Baseball is what most people consider to be a non-grueling sport, which for the most part is a matter of opinion. However, inside the baseball community the people who are put through the most abuse are those who catch. Catchers not only have to account for balls in the dirt and use their body to stop them, they are also most probable of getting into a person to person collision. In recent years this percentage has gone down drastically due to rule changes. However, the catcher still has to put there bodies on the line the most to play the game.

Each part of the catcher's equipment is important to the safety and health of the person wearing it but to me the most important piece is the one that is not visible: the protective cup. Getting hit in this area is the most painful and the most likely to cause long term damage. Since protective cups have been invented there has been two major improvements: 1. Using a flexible elastomer on the outside increases comfort while not giving up any kind of functionality 2. The Nutty Buddy.

The Nutty Buddy was invented by Mark Littell, a former MLB pitcher, and is made out of polycarbonate lexan. Polycarbonate is a durable material that is lightweight yet has a high impact resistance, which is one of the reasons it is found in so many products including riot shields. One of the characteristics that makes it special is that it is able to withstand extreme plastic deformations without shattering, which is uncommon in thermoplastics.

Thanks to these recent developments in personal protection equipment, as a catcher, I can be certain that I have a stringently tested material protecting what is most important to me. (Mark Littell even took a 90 mph fastball to the groin from point blank with the Nutty Buddy on as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yV831oPwG8M&t=321s)

References:

  1. Wikipedia. "Polycarbonate." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Jan. 2017. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.
  2. Zarda, Brett. "The Cup Stops Here." Popular Science. Popular Science, 22 Apr. 2008. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

Credits:

Created with images by keijj44 - "baseball catcher play at the plate" • skeeze - "baseball player catcher ball" • keijj44 - "baseball catcher collision"

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