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Custom-Fit Designs Individualized Helmets

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A motorcycle helmet is made to protect its wearer, but if it does not fit properly, it is not as effective in a crash. Mass-production systems cannot personalize individual headgear, and adding or removing padding can provide only limited customization.

Custom-Fit, a project funded by the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme, has a solution. The project’s 32 partner companies, based in 12 countries, have collaborated to create a manufacturing system that enables rapid customization of various products, including knee and jaw implants, prosthetics, motorcycle seats and helmets.

Shown is a computer-created customized helmet liner. The colours highlight separate sections, which are manufactured individually before being joined.

A three-dimensional full-body scanner developed by Human Solutions GmbH of Kaiserslautern, Germany, captures the geometric characteristics of the consumer’s body. The device, consisting of four columns, each containing a laser light source and two cameras, projects laser lines onto the subject. The cameras image the curvature of the lines, which is used to calculate the dimensions of the subject.

After scanning, specialized computer-aided design (CAD) software from Delcam of Birmingham, UK, uses the data to adapt a standard product to fit the individual features of the customer. This customized item is manufactured via a high-productivity additive technique, called rapid manufacturing, which uses a powder printing process tool developed by De Montfort University of Leicester, UK, to build a three-dimensional model from the design.

In the case of motorcycle helmets, only the liner must be modified. It is built with polymeric powders, layer by layer, and inserted into a basic helmet shell.

Five custom helmets have been made for testing, to be worn by five professional motorcycle test riders. The designs will be evaluated during long rides, and their performance will be measured by pressure sensors placed between the helmet and the head, as well as by the riders’ perceptions of their helmets’ comfort, noise and air flow levels.

Besides better-fitting and more comfortable, the helmets are expected to be safer than mass-produced models because the customized liner should lower the tendency of the helmet to be pulled off the head during a ride.

May 2008
customizationEuro NewsEuropegeometric characteristicsindustrialMass-production systemsNewsSensors & Detectors

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