Improved safety helmets

Year 2006
Project team Laurence Young

Greater protection

Sports-related and industrial head injuries are a well-known and serious problem. While foam-lined helmets help curb head injuries dramatically, foam offers insufficient protection from sudden force and the helmet itself should be discarded after impact—which users, especially children, rarely do. Millions of these helmets are sold each year for bicyclists and other sports. This project proposes to develop a new helmet with novel materials that provides sturdy protection while also being reusable. As this is a new project with no prior research, it will proceed through two design-and-test phases of helmets. Helmets will be tested for force absorption at a specialized facility to measure impact distribution. The helmet will then be re-engineered to provide maximum strength against impact forces then be manufactured as a prototype. Proof-of-concept tests on steel cylinders have shown that safety liners created of other materials spread impact force across a greater surface area than foam. The project’s goal is to reduce the effect of localized head injuries, possibly up to 40% in all safety helmets, specifically children’s bicycle helmets.