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Helmets are no new invention. In this article, we will discuss how a helmet is made for motorbikes, including what helmets are made of.
While there is sufficient evidence to prove that helmets are indispensable, they do not guarantee protection from head injuries or concussions. No helmet is 100% foolproof. However, they are a preventive measure, minimizing injuries and saving the lives of riders.
Structurally, there are three essential parts of a helmet manufacturing process. These are inner liners, followed by an outer shell and straps. Here we will take a detailed look into what these various parts are and how they help keep the head safe.
The outer shell acts as an exoskeleton to protect the wearer’s head from extreme stress. This exoskeleton can be made up of the following material:
There are two ways in which the exoskeleton can be attached to the liner.
The first way is by using industrial adhesive, where a liner is stuck to an outer shell and taped around for the presentation. The second method using which an outer shell can be made is by weaving two or more of the above-mentioned materials. This type of shell is called a composite shell.
Once the outer shell is ready, it is buffed and sanded down to make it smooth. Bumps, joints, and other marks are removed in the sanding process. Once it is smoothened, the paint will set on it very well.
Before painting can begin, the entire surface has to be dust-free. Cleaning the outer shell with alcohol or vacuum machines wipes out even the slightest trace of dust. Then the paint is mixed, and a first layer is sprayed onto the shell. It is allowed to dry before decals are fixed onto it. These are allowed to set for 3-4 hours before a final topcoat is sprayed on them.
The final part of a helmet is a strap that attaches it to your head and prevents it from being blown off in the wind. Helmet straps are made of nylon or polypropylene. The fabric and the weaving are what makes these straps unique to every company.
There are two ways in which a strap can be added to the helmet. The first method is when the strap is placed around the liner before it is glued to the outer shell. The second method is used for moulded helmets, where the belt is threaded through an anchor attached to the outer shell.
Some of the interiors can be removed and cleaned separately, while others are glued to the EPS covering. Sometimes an interior cloth or a plastic liner is also attached to its interiors.
The inner lining is responsible for absorbing much of the shock and preventing its transmission to the skull. If you are familiar with thermocol, then you know what helmets are made up of!
The little round beads of thermocol, also known as expanded polystyrene, are placed under high steam and pressure to form the "foam" material that makes up a helmet liner.
To strengthen this structure, it is necessary to add some reinforcements. The exact nature of the underpinnings is kept a trade secret, specific to each company. However, it is known that nylon, polypropylene, metal, or metal mesh are some of the possible aids.
Expanded polystyrene can be made in different densities. This deliberation in manufacturing helps a liner to withstand different levels of impact. Since a liner is relatively soft, it acts as a shock absorber, spreading out the force of a collision throughout, cushioning your head from harm. This should answer your question regarding what motorcycle helmets are made of.
After the manufacture of the individual parts, the most basic process is a labour-intensive process of assembling the liner, the outer shell, and the strap into one unit by hand. This labour-intensive process is carried out in Asian countries where labour is comparatively cheaper. However, some assembly is also done in Europe and the US, but not to the extent of Asia.
The final touches include strict quality checks and inspections to see if the safety device measures up to ISI standards. The helmet can now bear the brand's emblem and be shipped. It is ready to be sold and bought.
Apart from these three major components of a helmet, there is also the buckle, visor, mirror and light mounts, speakers, earmuffs, bunny ears, and communication devices. A buckle is made up of nylon or plastic with modern side-pinch clasps. The other accessories are added on after the main structure of a helmet is finalised.
Now that you know what material a helmet is made up of, it is time to understand the material used in different types of helmets.
Safety helmets are helmets made of plastic or helmets made of fibreglass. These are worn by construction workers, labourers, maintenance specialists, and warehouse workers. Safety helmets or plastic hats are strong enough to withstand falls and injuries from any materials falling. Carbon-reinforced polymers are quite expensive, but nothing in comparison to human life.
The most common material for a bicycle helmet is foam since that is the most important component which absorbs loads of shock. If you are wondering what bicycle helmets are made of, the answer is simple.
They are made of polystyrene foam or polycarbonate. The unique part of bicycle helmets is their aerodynamic construction. Since they have a role in skull protection, they mustn't create lag when the cyclist rides at high speeds. Hence they have a shape like a duck's back.
In conclusion, we have looked at what a helmet is made of, the manufacturing process, and how various specialised helmets are made. Helmets made of thermoplastic can be melted down and recycled, whereas those made from thermoset resin cannot be recycled. So choose wisely in this environment-conscious age!
Knowing what and how your helmet is made will allow you to optimise its usage. Further, it would allow you to pick the perfect option based on your needs and riding style.