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Flax-Based Bike Helmet Is Heavy but Safer for the Environment
10/7/2013

James Dart, a recent UK university graduate, has invented a sustainable bicycle helmet made with a flax-based bio resin from a company called DragonKraft.   (Source: James Dart)
James Dart, a recent UK university graduate, has invented a sustainable bicycle helmet made with a flax-based bio resin from a company called DragonKraft.
(Source: James Dart)

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Elizabeth M
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New directions in bio-materials
Elizabeth M   10/7/2013 6:45:04 AM
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I like the idea of this helmet and the direction in which James Dart is going with his inventions. Replacing materials that are traditionally bad for the environment with more sustainable and eco-friendly materials is certainly the way forward for textile design and it's good to see young minds like Dart's thinking like this. Although this helmet may not be ready for commercial mass production yet, it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that this or something similar could be the helmet of choice for people in the not-so-distant future.

Rob Spiegel
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Testing for safety
Rob Spiegel   10/7/2013 11:41:18 AM
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Interesting product. I would think helmet manufacturers would be interested in testing this concept. Testing is one area where the home inventor is at a great disadvantage.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: New directions in bio-materials
Ann R. Thryft   10/7/2013 12:40:33 PM
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Thanks for this report, Elizabeth. Good to see bioplastics moving into sports equipment: it seems like a natural fit.

Charles Murray
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Material properties
Charles Murray   10/7/2013 7:17:28 PM
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Nice story, Liz. I'd be curious to see how the material properties of the bio-resin compare to the properties of conventional helmet materials.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Testing for safety
Elizabeth M   10/8/2013 6:40:35 AM
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Yes, for sure, Rob, I totally agree. I think Dart's helmet could really work, but the truth will be in the testing, which he couldn't manage on his own. The backing of a manufacturer will certainly help with this, as you point out, and proof whether this type of helmet is viable for commercial distribution.

Elizabeth M
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Re: New directions in bio-materials
Elizabeth M   10/8/2013 6:42:31 AM
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I agree with you, Ann, it is a natural fit. Perhaps a bike helmet was a bit ambitious, as there are safety concerns with it that will need a lot of testing and trial and error to ensure it can offer the protection people need. Other products that are less about safety and more about pure sports use (perhaps soccer balls or something like that) might be easier to tackle as initial commercial products.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Material properties
Elizabeth M   10/8/2013 6:59:44 AM
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I'm curious as well, Chuck! I actually think one problem might be degradation over time. I am not speaking from expertise, but it just seems that bioresin may not be as durable. But that is something that wouldn't be known until these products were out there being used. Perhaps someone who is a materials expert could weigh in on this?

Bunter
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Thoughts from a cyclist.
Bunter   10/8/2013 8:44:24 AM
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I won't say "it will never work".  An engineer should "never" use that word.  ;^D

I have raced bikes on and off-road, commuted in city traffic in all weather (try winter in Fargo, ND, was I nuts?).  Frankly a non-vented, heavier helmet is a no go.  Might be able to do something for the skate park/freestyle crowd.

This is a loooooooooooooooooooong way from viable.

When we are talking safety equipment for myself or my family eco-friendliness will not even get a consideration.  The product has to perform. 

On the other hand if he wants to put the effort into development and can bring it to the point where it does not compromise safety or function we can talk.

TTFN

Dennis

Elizabeth M
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Re: Thoughts from a cyclist.
Elizabeth M   10/8/2013 8:53:12 AM
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Thanks for your comment, Bunter. I can totally see your point, and I would say that definitely yes, this product will not work as it is now. But maybe with some tweaks in the future, it could be a viable option. And the fact that someone is working with bioresin to replace something that was traditionally made from plastic is a good step forward for the use of more sustainable materials.

Charles Murray
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Re: Thoughts from a cyclist.
Charles Murray   10/8/2013 7:01:22 PM
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Good point, Bunter. If it doesn't perform in terms of safety or function, none of the other features will matter.

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