Update: Neck FRAME has been published on Dezeen and several other online publications. You can read the Dezeen article here: http://www.dezeen.com/2014/08/07/neck-frame-by-andrew-lee-mcconnell-graphene-sport-support/
I recently completed this concept project and wanted to share it here on the blog. Neck FRAME is a low-profile neck protector that adheres to the skin and is reinforced with state of the art materials. It can be worn during athletic performance and is designed to absorb excessive force put on the cervical spine, such as whiplash, giving protection in any sport with the possibility of neck injury.
After suffering a head and neck injury in 2013 I began thinking about ways to prevent or minimize the severity of sports-related neck injuries. The final design is flexible and adheres to skin and is also reinforced with a material called graphene. Graphene is composed of pure carbon arranged at an atomic level as a single layer in a hexagonal grid and has many properties that benefit this design, such as flexibility, elasticity and great strength along with the fact that this material is very light and thin. When worn by an athlete Neck FRAME acts like a structural second skin.
Neck FRAME is made using flexible synthetic materials laminated together. The layer making contact with an athlete’s skin is elastic woven polyester which sticks to the skin using adhesive, similar to elastic athletic sports tape. Running along the spine is a ridge of woven graphene that is the main source of neck support. The outside surface is a thin, smooth and durable layer of graphene with small grooves forming a hexagonal pattern, which make this layer more flexible as well as reflect the hexagonal atomic structure of graphene. And finally, the edge of the Neck FRAME is a continuous flexible polymer such as neoprene.
The concept behind Neck FRAME could be used to strengthen other vulnerable joints, such as wrists, knees, ankles, etc. I envision a future where similar products will be wrapped around athletes’ bodies, giving protection from injuries of all kinds.