Lazer SuperSkin – skin biomimicry applied to helmet design
With over 80% of fatal motorcycle accidents due to head trauma, rotational head injury is currently seen as the greatest cause of brain damage or death for motorcyclists involved in road accidents. Manufactured by Lazer Designs and designed by U.K.-based Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC), a new helmet design promises to protect cyclists by simulating the way the human skull protects itself from rapid rotational injury.
The new helmet, named SuperSkin, tackles this directly using a special new technology that mimics nature’s own simple design – skull and skin. Superior in design compared to standard helmets, stringent tests show that the SuperSkin product design reduces rotational impact by an unprecedented 50% and the subsequent possibility of brain damage by 67.5%.
Managing director of IDC, Stephen Knowles, explains, “Traditionally, motorcycle helmets have been rigid in design. We needed to introduce a dynamic element of movement to dramatically reduce the rotational impact which often causes life-threatening injuries. On impact, the outer membrane is able to stretch and slide over the main helmet shell to prevent these dangerous rotational forces being transmitted to the head and brain.”
The product development process brought together IDC’s engineers, model makers and designers to develop a skin-like membrane that would slide on the surface of the helmet without breaking on impact. CAD software provided a quick means to transforming the concept into a series of tangible designs. But central to the intensive research and development process was rapid prototyping.
Precision CNC machining paved the way for multiple impact absorbing liners for the helmet to be sculpted from a polystyrene block with optimum absorbance performance, allowing the team to test each design change along the way. The membrane was also tested in the same way.
The product design required careful selection of materials. A strong synthetic sits on top of the gel-like lubricant to form a protective layer across the surface of the helmet. State-of -the-art vacuum casting was used to create prototypes and the materials tested for resistance and strength. The chosen synthetic stretched up to eight times its original length.
Although unfortunately there is still no fail-safe protections for preventing road accidents, the consequences of these accidents can be lessened thanks to constant technological progress and inventions as SuperSkin.