Waukesha, WI-With the proliferation of today's adjustable basketball rims, children can now soar above the basket like the pros. And they can more easily tangle their fingers in the net.
Occasionally, kids catch fingers in nets and break or dislocate them. In rare instances, youngsters have even lost fingers or pulled the entire upper palate from their mouths by hooking a tooth in the net.
To reduce the likelihood of such injuries, engineers at Huffy Sports created a breakaway plastic clip that allows the net to release from the rim when sufficient force is applied. The patent-pending QuickClip® system consists of a 1/8-inch-diameter stainless steel T-stud and a molded plastic clip. Huffy welds 12 stainless steel studs on the underside of the rim. They then supply 12 plastic clips to customers, who snap them in place when installing the net. Each of the clips includes a small slot that fits over the head of the T-stud on the rim. Plastic fingers on the bottom side of the clip hold the net in place.
Once installed, the net releases when someone applies about 25 lbs of force per clip. To accomplish that release, the clip's plastic fingers elongate when tension is applied to the net. After the fingers elongate, the net slips off the clip, and the fingers return to their original configuration.
To provide good wear characteristics, Huffy engineers employed a specially formulated, UV-stabilized, modified polypropylene resin from Colonial Rubberworks, Inc., Plastics Div., Dyersburg, TN, to make the clips. The modified poly-propylene enables the clips to withstand sunlight and cold weather without discoloring or losing their elasticity. Because the QuickClip maintains its elasticity, users need not replace the clip each time it releases the net.
Huffy engineers say that there was less of a need for such a design until the past few years, when lower baskets and more aggressive play near the rim grew commonplace. "It wasn't as big an issue ten years ago, because the rim was generally up there at ten feet," notes Randy Schickert, vice president of product engineering for Huffy Sports. "But when you move the goal down, it becomes increasingly obvious that you must do something to address the net-entanglement issue."
Huffy engineers tried several different solutions before taking a cue from the auto industry and using the T-stud design. Automotive engineers typically use similar T-studs to attach plastic trim to cars.
Today, all of Huffy's full-size rims use the QuickClip. Because of its inherent safety, Huffy also licenses the technology to competitors. "It's like having an air bag on an automobile," Schickert says. "We don't think there should be a basketball system out there that does not use this feature."
Additional details...Contact Randy Schickert, Huffy Sports, 2021 MacArthur Rd., Waukesha, WI 53188, (414) 548-0440.