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mbkcoach

? About padding in west vests and TW

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How much longer before Wilson stops making the inside of its gold and platinum with the same padding as football shoulder pads and starts using the same padding or similar to team Wendy? @UADirOps @JimKirk 

 

Why does ump attire not sell a pad like what team Wendy made for the gold and platinum?

 

what is stopping somebody who can sew from getting the material and start retrofitting chest protectors like team Wendy did?

 

where can I get the material and I can get my local seamstress to make a retrofit?

 

the insides of the force3 shin guards are very similar to the TW retro fit padding?

 

just things that have me thinking now that team Wendy is no longer doing it.

 

 

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On July 2, 2016 at 9:57 PM, mbkcoach said:

How much longer before Wilson stops making the inside of its gold and platinum with the same padding as football shoulder pads and starts using the same padding or similar to team Wendy? @UADirOps @JimKirk 

<Imagine Emperor Palpatine> "Goooood. Gooooooooood. I feel your anger. The hate is swelling in you now."

Wilson isn't going to change and doesn't care about you or any one of us. The pathetic padding you see and feel inside of a Wilson WestVest Gold or Platinum is none other than common open-cell foam, often used in sofa cushions, encased in a synthetic (nylon) skin for cohesion and body contact. The reason it is so protective is because it is so thick and dense; the reason it is so thick is because of how cheap and commonplace it is. I can shuffle down to the local upholstery shop or a Jo-Ann Fabrics and get it by the sheet or block. Wilson is about making money, thus uses a 15+ year old planform, without improvements, and applies inexpensive mass production materials (ABS plastic, nylon straps and buckles, and the aforementioned sofa cushion foam). Oh, and don't forget the Exclusive MLB Endorsement. That is so valuable.

Team Wendy is about making an innovative, successful, problem-solving product. Their ethos is to end or lessen the catastrophic effects of a head injury. To wit, they developed (and patented) a compound foam material called Zorbium. There are several versions or formulations of Zorbium to serve different purposes, from energy absorption to resiliency to fire retardation. You can read more about it here: http://www.teamwendy.com/technology/materials/

Because this Zorbium foam has been engineered (a term foreign to Wilson corporate heads) with careful attention to properties, functions and dimensions, it can be much lighter and require less volume than common open-cell (sofa cushion... I'm gonna keep on hammering that term) foam. So, Team Wendy mills out shaped "bricks" of Zorbium and encases it in a very fine, wicking microfiber to produce – voilá – the UMPS mask pads. Based on this success, they went further and made them to fit (retrofit, more like) the ABS shell of a WestVest Gold and then a Platinum (I'm pretty sure they've done a Douglas before as well, right guys?). These Zorbium retrofits need to be anchored to an existing carapace, and Team Wendy is not in the business of making their own Chest Protector. They know their role – to provide the best impact mitigation solution. Their work got the notice of the US Military, and now Team Wendy is producing all the helmets for Special Forces, Parajumpers, Coast Guard avionics, and SAR teams. They are also supplying Zorbium to a fabricator of armored floor plates for the interior of latest-generation military vehicles (IEDs and land mines are that bad). Due to this increased demand, Team Wendy had to end the service of retrofitting umpire armor (chest protectors and shinguards); thankfully, they continued with mask pads.

Zorbium itself is only available from Team Wendy, as it is proprietary. Can you find something similar? Surely. Schutt has developed/employed latest generation TPU-EVA foam for their football and baseball helmets and football shoulder pads. TPU-EVA foam is also in the (my) Schutt XV CP. TPU-EVA foam is cast in holey bricks, looking like lightweight blocks of swiss cheese. For as light as they are, they have phenomenal crush resistance, but a big benefit of their design, with all those holes, is how they promote airflow and heat dissipation. The more heat you retain, the more fatigued you get; the more fatigued you get, the worse you perform... So why are you wearing a vest made of insulating sofa-cushion foam??!! My point is, are there other technically advanced foams and fabrics out there? Yes, it's just a matter of investigating, locating, sourcing and acquiring them.

If you were to get Team Wendy's ear and ask them if you could perform a similar service to what they did, they'd probably say "Knock yourself out! Have at it!". However, they (rightly so) wouldn't want you to use Zorbium because you get into the whole dark realm of misrepresentation, quality control, and liability. The only other hinderance would be if Wilson put the kibosh on it because you're voiding the warranty (like they ever honor it anyway) on that Wilson product without their expressed, stated permission. You get into trade and copyright infringement and a whole bunch of mucky-mucky stuff that, while companies can usually mitigate and compromise over, most small or lone entities (you in your garage) can't deal with.

The actual magic of Force3 gear – especially the shinguards you mentioned – isn't foam at all. It's Kevlar. Kevlar is an incredibly strong, lightweight, resilient fiber that has unmatched potential as a energy absorption / dissipation material. It does have, though, one critical flaw or weakness – it decays in UV exposure. Thus, it must be encased in a synthetic "skin" that does not allow UV to permeate. The Kevlar on Force3 Ultimate shinguards is actually a woven fabric behind the cast plastic, encased in a synthetic leather on the outer side and a tight-weave, flexible mesh nylon on the inner side. The repositional inserts you might be referring to are just that – foam inserts encased in a wicking microfiber for comfort and sizing. They are not crucial to the protection value of the shinguards.

Kevlar is also centerpiece to the Force3 UnEqual Chest Protector. In this application, too, the Kevlar is a woven layer within a neoprene outer skin, a layer of thin plastic plates, and then backed by a liner of a dense wicking material. The neoprene is employed because ABS plastic, while giving you that "hard armor" feel, doesn't bend and conform easily to a variety of body shapes. Prior to the inclusion of embedded plastic plates, the Kevlar needs a dense(r) material to give it shape and structure – that's neoprene's advantage. You've seen how a wetsuit seems to hold its general shape, even when hanging on a peg? Well, the UnEqual did address the first version's shortcomings, and improved (another term foreign to Wilson) the design by including "blast plates" embedded within the neoprene, just in front of the Kevlar, to take the brunt of the structural trauma from a direct shot.

Now, I told you all this because I like where your sights are set. Let me encourage you further with this – the answer to the question of better protection for us as umpires, catchers and any other high-impact sports participants does not lie with corporate dinosaurs like Wilson; it lies with smaller, more flexible, more innovative, more forward-thinking entities like Force3, Team Wendy, EvoShield, All-Star, Schutt and enterprising individuals like yourself.

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On 7/2/2016 at 10:57 PM, mbkcoach said:

How much longer before Wilson stops making the inside of its gold and platinum with the same padding as football shoulder pads and starts using the same padding or similar to team Wendy? @UADirOps @JimKirk 

 

Why does ump attire not sell a pad like what team Wendy made for the gold and platinum?

 

what is stopping somebody who can sew from getting the material and start retrofitting chest protectors like team Wendy did?

 

where can I get the material and I can get my local seamstress to make a retrofit?

 

the insides of the force3 shin guards are very similar to the TW retro fit padding?

 

just things that have me thinking now that team Wendy is no longer doing it.

Thanks for all of your great questions and tagging us for a response.  I do know the umpire gear market continually improves. However, it doesn't always happen as quickly as everyone would like. I'm included in that line of thought. I do believe there will be some movement on improving Wilson chest protectors and shin guards in the near future. And when those things are available, we will certainly carry them.

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I just spoke to team Wendy staff today. They will not sell padding by itself. They might be in discussions with a manufacturer to be their supplier. 

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