Russell Athletic & Boeing Give 787 Carbon Fiber New Life on Football Field

28th August 2014

Russell Brands LLC and Boeing announced today that they are working together to incorporate excess carbon fiber from 787 Dreamliner production in Russell Athletic protective athletic gear.

The companies will expand an initial collaboration that puts 787 carbon fiber into Russell Athletic’s CarbonTek football shoulder pad system. Russell Athletic and Boeing see significant benefits in using aerospace-grade carbon fiber, as the carbon filaments provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and greater durability.

The “CarbonTek with OS Technology™” (patent pending) shoulder pad system has the sports industry’s first-ever exoskeleton made of 100 percent, aerospace-grade carbon fiber, which is thinner, stronger and approximately 10 percent lighter compared to competitors. The high-performance fiber also offers an increased range of motion and secure fit for the athlete’s body.


Russell Athletic brand ambassador and pro football wide receiver Pierre Garcon wears the CarbonTek shoulder pad system, with an exosketon made of 787 carbon fiber


“We are thrilled to partner with Boeing and discover new ways to utilize carbon fiber used on the 787 to make innovative, game-changing products for the sports industry,” said Robby Davis, senior vice president and general manager, Russell Athletic. “It’s an exciting opportunity for both companies to leverage the value of carbon fiber used in high-performance gear while helping to meet environmental goals.”

Boeing, which markets surplus factory materials to meet the company’s environmental and business goals, sees more opportunities to repurpose carbon fiber as it increases the use of carbon fiber-reinforced composites in its airplanes. The 787, which is 20 percent more fuel efficient than the airplane it replaces, has a composite fuselage and wing. Boeing’s new 777X will be the largest and most-efficient twin-engine jet in the world due in part to the industry’s largest composite wing.

“Boeing decided to build the 787 Dreamliner with carbon composites to increase fuel efficiency for our customers and improve the passenger experience,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes environmental strategy. “Our collaboration with Russell Athletic ‎is a fabulous opportunity to utilize the strength and lightweight characteristics of 787 carbon fiber to support elite athletes on the field.”

Several elite collegiate players from Division I universities will be wearing the CarbonTek throughout the upcoming football season, as well as Russell Athletic’s three pro football ambassadors:  Pierre Garcon, Mark Ingram and Colt McCoy.