What Are Helmets Made Of ? Surely, Not My Mother’s Warnings
That is right. Even though you constantly hear that nagging from the women in your life to wear one, helmets do not channel the spirit of these ladies. It is a whole lot of sciencey nonsense instead. That is what keeps your head from splattering around as organ jam during a crash. Knowing what goes inside will help you visualize the real impact of an accident and the subtle difference in materials will help you make a definitive choice in helmets. The looks, price and quality of helmet are deeply annealed with the materials used to make it. Yes, looks too. Because, some materials don’t need to be thick to protect your noodle. Science trumps common sense there. From plastic to Kevlar( Yes, you read right!), a range if materials are used to protect your head better than Airforce One protects POTUS, whether your head deserves it or not.
What are these mystery ingredients and how do they differ across the scale of quality:
The outermost layer of the helmet is the shell. This shell distributes the impact energy through the structure of the helmet so that it is not borne by your head. Shell material is a major difference between helmets. You would want a helmet to sit light on your head without compromising with the safety factor. The shell braves the abrasions and limits the cracks from reaching your skull. There are a number of materials that can constitute a shell.
+ Polycarbonate Plastics:
This material balances sturdiness against price. They are the easiest and cheapest to manufacture. Molten plastic is molded into the shape of your regular helmet shell. It is most common in the helmets that you will see reviewed on our site. The trade-off is in terms of weight. The plastic makes helmet heavier than other contemporary materials.
Fiberglass finds a number of uses across the industry and it is a baby of the helmet structure as well. Fused sheets of fiberglass cloth and Resin make a much more pliable shell than plastic. For the shell to absorb as much impact as possible, it must shatter easily. Fiberglass is more brittle than its plastic peers that way. This also means that you should handle your fiberglass helmets much more carefully. Since the impact attenuation is more, fiberglass eases the effect on the inner foam. Thus fiberglass helmets are lighter. Your pockets will burn but your neck will be sighing with relief.
Most of the gaming nutjobs would definitely be gushing with joy on this one. Because Kevlar means that much to them. Nobody is going to jump out of buildings and aim muscle guns at you. Using Kevlar is one of the smarter, more expensive decisions of helmet makers. Kevlar and fiberglass or Carbon composites are used to design high end shells which are worth the money in weight and strength.
2. Foam Layer:
Once the shell has played its part, the next hurdle for the crash energy is the foam layer stuck to the shell. This layer is used in the interest of keeping the shell thickness from compromising the weight of helmet for safety.
Expanded PolyStyrene is the most common material used to make these foam layers. It is a common material that is used in disposable cups and packing material. However, the helmet uses a higher grade of EPS, custom designed to soak up the impact. EPS, again, mimics the shell and tries to crush upon a hit so that the force does not reach your safely cocooned head. Damage to EPS liner may not be apparent to the naked eye. This is what makes helmet inspection difficult for a non-professional. Some Snell approved or other good quality helmets come with multiple layers of this EPS liner.
This is another revolutionary find in the field of liners. It is manufactured by fusing miniature tubes together to form a honeycomb structure. They get crushed in the same manner as the EPS liner but they manage the crash energy much more effectively. They also do great with ventilation, courtesy hollow tube elements that make up the structure.
3. Comfort liner:
This is the inner most padding of the helmet that makes comfortable contact with the rider’s skin. It is typically made up of two layers: a foam layer and a layer of skin-friendly material like Terrycloth. The second layer has advanced to MCoolMax as well which absorbs sweat and keeps the interiors dry. In a lot of helmets, the cloth part is removable and washable for hygiene concerns.
4. Visor and Vent covers:
The cheap visors are typically made of acrylic which lends some flexibility to them. They are easy to manufacture but you get what you pay for. The fancier visors are made of polycarbonate and do a better job avoiding the scrapes from spoiling your face. The vent covers are also made of cheap plastic.
The anatomy of helmets provides an insight into helmet quality and the mechanics of crash management. If this tricky science doesn’t convince you that you need a lid to protect yourself, then you are probably from Illinois, Iowa or New Hampshire. Find out why History Of the Helmet : The Annals Of Safety Gear.