Bicycles

Hexr 3D-printed bike helmet promises better fit, increased safety and less heat

Hexr 3D-printed bike helmet pr...
The Hexr weighs a claimed 240 grams, for a size equivalent to a Medium
The Hexr weighs a claimed 240 grams, for a size equivalent to a Medium
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Rear view of the Hexr, showing its Polyamide 11 core
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Rear view of the Hexr, showing its Polyamide 11 core
The Hexr's hexagonal cells soften on impact
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The Hexr's hexagonal cells soften on impact
The Hexr is claimed to be 68 percent better at controlling impact forces than regular EPS models
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The Hexr is claimed to be 68 percent better at controlling impact forces than regular EPS models
The Hexr weighs a claimed 240 grams, for a size equivalent to a Medium
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The Hexr weighs a claimed 240 grams, for a size equivalent to a Medium
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Remember the Kupol? It was a 3D-printed bicycle helmet that we covered last month, which forwent the usual foam core. Although it didn't meet its Kickstarter goal, another 3D-printed no-foam helmet is soon to hit the market, in the form of the Hexr.

Jamie Cook first got the idea for the helmet when he was a mechanical engineering student at University College London. He then pursued the concept further as an undergrad at the University of Oxford. Now, he's CEO of a British company that's making the things.

Buyers start by going to a participating store where an app is used to do a scan of their head, resulting in a 30,000-point 3D mesh digital model. The helmet is subsequently printed according to that model – this not only ensures an exact fit, but it also minimizes waste, as helmets are only made to order.

And yes, as mentioned, the helmet doesn't utilize any foam. Cook noted that regular expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam not only hardens on impact, but it's also designed to absorb energy across a uniform, flat contact area … not a curved area, like a head. Additionally, given that it's an insulator, it's not good at conducting body heat.

The Hexr's hexagonal cells soften on impact
The Hexr's hexagonal cells soften on impact

With that in mind, he developed the Hexr's core system, which consists of linked hexagonal cells. Those cells soften on impact by buckling, increasing the head-to-core contact area and thus spreading the impact energy across a wide area. As a result, the helmet is claimed to be 68 percent better at controlling impact forces than regular EPS models.

Additionally, the core is printed from a material known as Polyamide 11, which is said to conduct heat eight times better than EPS. After being drawn away from the head, that heat is then vented out by air that's channelled beneath the helmet's polycarbonate outer shell. What's more, unlike petroleum-based EPS, Polyamide 11 is made from 100-percent renewable castor oil.

Plans call for the Hexr to be commercially available as of 2019, with the first year of production being limited to 500 units. Buyers can reserve a helmet now via the company website, by placing a £50 deposit on the £349 (about US$456) retail price. So far, the 3D head-size scans are only being performed in London.

Source: Hexr via BikeRadar

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4 comments
Trylon
$456 for a bicycle helmet is ridiculous. If I was going to spend that kind of money, I'd buy a Hövding airbag helmet. Even cooler and far more comfortable, since there's absolutely nothing at all on your head most of the time. BTW, there's nothing special about Polyamide 11. It's just a form of nylon.
YuraG
As with all safety gear, we value it most when it’s too late. If the helmet performs as advertised, it’s worth the money. Weren’t authorities/insurers asleep, they’d pay for this tech to cover all kids (you’ve never had a concussion as a kid, right?), boxing (esp. professional), football (US version) and so on. And if the bicycle helmets were sexy and practical, more people would use them: equipped with turn signals, headlight, stop light, haptics, a rear-view cam with a HUD (been waiting for this) and no Bluetooth or other audio output (we need to hear the road). Too much? May be, but not for me. Hope Hexo and Kupol succeed and move on.
christopher
Trust me - when push comes to shove, you want that on your head rather than a few extra bills in your wallet.
KaiserPingo
Exciting and brilliant, but the prizing is a huge turn off !