Forced to perform over a season that extends from sweltering August heat to frigid January cold, football coaches' headsets have plenty to endure before their users continually tear them off, spike them, or worse (think Gatorage shower). The abuse and environmental stress took a toll on the thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) that had been used in the headband, temple pad, and boom areas. The elastomers exhibited tearing failures in flexible areas as well as fading, scratching, and erosion of the pad-printed logo on the headband and boom, which impacted on-air branding potential and ultimately prompted a material switch to silicone.
Shin-Etsu Silicones of America (SESA), part of Japan's Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd., ultimately supplied three silicones for the three styles of redesigned headset (over-the-head-mono, dual, behind-the-head). The silicones must bond to the PC/ABS headband, reflecting an increased demand for soft materials that are capable of adhering higher temperature thermoplastic resins, according to SESA's Eric Bishop.