The Design and Rationale:
Every year, it is estimated that approximately 1.25 million people die each year in road related accidents. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), that equates to roughly 1 death per 25 seconds worldwide. Road related incidents occur when cars crash into pedestrians, cyclists, and buildings, resulting in serious injuries and death. Helmet usage reduces the risk of motorcycle injuries by 69% and motorcycle fatalities by 42%. Road mortality rates are especially high in Developing Nations, where helmet usage is low due to a lack of law enforcement, lack of education, society, cost and weight of helmet. By equipping more people with cheap, lightweight helmets, that look good, we hope to prevent many deaths.
Vietnam has a thriving scene of bicycles and motorbikes which are used as a means of transportation for people to get around for many factors including employment and recreation. However, last year the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) official figures stated that last year alone 22419 deaths were caused by road related incidents in Vietnam alone. Bicycles and motorbikes support the movement of millions in Vietnam, if not billions worldwide. The figures in Vietnam are just the tip of the iceberg. Many other nations worldwide are even worse, and most of them are developing countries. But the reality is that there is a large percentage of people are dying when their deaths are preventable.
But things don’t have to be this way. We believe that the large percentage of deaths that are preventable could be addressed with a simple, affordable and safe solution that will save lives in under $20. Protective equipment can help curb the number of injuries and deaths we see every year on roads. One very effective protective device, is the helmet. Although most of us take it for granted in the developed world where it is second nature to put on when we go riding, this sight of helmets is lacking in the developing world where awareness is lacking and it is seen as too expensive to many to justify its purchase.
So, our solution to making the world a better place make us think creatively and re-engineer the humble helmet and make it affordable for all to buy. We first started using 21st-century communication to establish the preliminary ideas about how we would produce such an item up to modern safety standards and at an affordable price. Then, Anton came up with the idea of using paper mȃché to create the bicycle helmets.
Today’s world is wasteful. People are disposing more and more, and rubbish is ending up in landfills when it could be recycled. But the good news is that awareness of recycling is becoming more and more prominent and people are increasingly willing to sort their trash. We have decided to get onto this train of thought and believe that using recycled newspaper could be a great way to create paper mȃché helmets. Newspaper could be redirected from its current waste pathways and straight into the creation of these helmets. Thus, we could use this problem as an opportunity to create an alternate usage for newspaper, saving it from landfills and additionally using it as a free or very cheap material in the production of life saving helmets.
One additional thing that all of us noted was that these days, people also feel uninspired to wear helmets because of their intriguing designs which are often boring and deter people from wearing them. Therefore, we believe that through the creation of our paper mȃché helmets, people can wear stylish protective equipment that reflects their individual tastes and personality. Therefore, we can do this through painting the helmets which will apply later.
This diagram shows the main causes for not wearing a helmet among children. The major reason seems to be the risk of neck injury, due to the weight of the helment. Our helmet is extremely light (only 300 grams), making it much more accessible to children this age, saving lives.
Science of the Helmet
The helmet protects three main sections of the brain; the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, and occipatal lobe. It is vital that the helmet covers these sections of head to maintain the very important brain cells which we cannot live without and allow us to complete everyday functions.
Progress Update #1: Applying Paper Mache
We have made some serious progress with the development of our design now, and things are coming along very nicely. Ben, Anton, Ashley and I have been working extremely well together at the paper mache stage and have made good headway. Some problems that we initially experienced was that the glue to water ratio was not correct whilst paper macheing making the drying process much longer than it really needed to be.
After solving this issue we added more glue to our PVA water solution and the drying phase became much quicker. Since our time was limited we decided to investigate into finding a way to allow the paper mache under shell to dry faster. Since today was particularly hot and the sun was out we decided to place the balloons in the sun. This was a good idea in theory but had to be closely monitored to prevent any of the balloons from popping. UNFORTUNATELY, we forgot to bring in one of our balloons, resulting in a pop, however with some quick thinking Ben and Anton, blew up another balloon and saved the paper mache structure.
After this little incident with the sun, as a team we decided to place it inside the the fume hood which pulled a lot of the moisture from our helmets scaffolds out. Everything is looking pretty good now and things are starting to take shape, hopefully when the paper mache dries out we can begin the next phase.
Anton Glueing the newspaper to the balloon head mold
Two of our prototypes drying
Progress Update #2: Expandable foam
Once the drying of our paper mache hard shell had finished our group was at the stage in which we could begin the most crucial part of the manufacturing stage: using expandable foam to create the compactable portion of the helmet. This was foreseeably going to be a very messy process and so before we made any rushed decisions we laid copious amounts of newspaper to protect the benchtop. As well as this we wore the necessary safety equipment: gloves and safety goggles.
Once we were all geared up we proceeded by laying 30% of the amount of foam we needed onto the surface of the paper mache shell and began spreading it as evenly as possible around our mold. This was quite more difficult that we expected as the foam was not very malleable, and proved to be quite a sticky situation. Whilst we made our best efforts to manipulate the foam it was expanding at a rate far too quick for us to manage and so we just ensured that we had enough coverage to allow for adequate shaping later on in the manufacturing process.
Once the foam had hardened and set for the required 5 hours it was off to the Design and Technology department to use Antons handy skills in the workshop. Anton began shaping and profiling using various files and tools such as the disk sander to rough out a shape that would provide maximum protection. Although, it was not perfect the shape due to the nature of the foam he did his best to make it as smooth as possible. Once the smooth had occurred it was onto creating a slot for eyes as it was a bit to low so we simply cut away some of the material.
Overall this process was difficult it was also enjoyable and very cool to see the product coming along nicely. Something that we probably could have done differently next time was invert the balloon molds and place them in a bowl to allow the foam to shape more evenly. Not only would have it been easier to shape later on but it also would have been much cleaner.
Spraying the foam onto the mold
A fellow student wearing the newly shaped helmet
Progress Update #3:Painting
After our first day on the IB Group 4 Project, we came back to the classroom executing the second stage of our plan further develop our creative sides, and add another dimension to our project. It’s an open secret that people, especially young children don’t like to wear helmets because of their ugly designs and lack of personality. As discussed before, we hope to create a helmet which allows people to express their individual tastes and style in an attempt to combat this issue and allow people to take pride in wearing the life saving device. The main way we believe we can do this is by painting the top of the helmet in colours, shapes, designs that will reflect the wishes of the wearer, creating diversity within the population.
In order to paint the top, we sent Ben off to paint the Prototype 1 Helmet in a “Melonhead” design, inspired by Cricket questions in his Sports, Exercise, Health Sciences (SEHS) classes. This worked well as the end product resulted in a very individualised helmet that looked very different that anything you can get in the market today. In Addition, we also have made an alternative helmet design, inspired by Mariokarts fans everywhere which has therefore extended our target audience to go-kart racers. The result was two prototype helmets which we all (Anton, Ashley, Fin and Ben) were all very pleased with and had a good time implementing our very creative designs.
Thus, we believe that furthering this process of making affordable helmets to allow individual expressions of creativity while inspiring people throughout the world to take an interest in wearing their helmets in order to be safe cyclists, motorcyclists, etc.
Painting the Outside of One of Our Prototypes.
Progress Update #4: Testing
As fashionable as our helmet is, we wanted to see if it actually had some kind of safety value as well. To see how the helmet would withstand impact, like it would in a crash situation, we dropped it from a height of 9.3 meters. The helmet showed almost no permanent deformations as the result of the test, and while the force it hit the ground with was relatively low (3 Netowns), its final impact velocity was approximately 70 km/h , roughly the speed of a travelling car. The helmet hit with a low force because it is very light (only 300 grams), and it fell in a straight line, which shows that the weight distribution is even. All of these factors minimise the risk to the riders neck, a it puts the least stress on it as possible. Additionally, the helmet bounced back up a fair distance and this distance shows that it can absorb a fair amount of force, much like a high-bounce ball. The foam and paper provide extra stopping distance, which lowers the force exerted on the cranium. This absorption of force will be vital in protecting our precious brains in the incident of a crash.
A similar drop test is carried when testing motorcycle helmets to see if they meet safety standards. The success of our test shows that our helmet actually has protective value.
We carried out further informal tests, such as head butting a wall and various other objects, hitting someone wearing the helmet with a piece of wood, and being stabbed with a art knife. In all of these trials, the subjects survived, further showing the admirable qualities of our design.
See the attached videos for visual evidence.
Measuring how far we are going to drop the helmet from
We can safely say that we are all very proud of our achievements over the last two days. In the days leading up to the project we had serious doubts over if we would actually make anything good, but in the end we have made not one but two reasonably safe, and highly fashionable helmets. The aesthetic appeal was a particularly unexpected surprise and has produced multiple laughs, further contributing to our overall satisfaction. Our team dynamic, as well, was also very good. Between us we had all of the group four subjects covered and our diversity of skill sets helped us to work very effectively together. So what has come out of this project? Although this project is highly scientific, some sciences were more represented than others. Thus, a trade-off had to be made and some can clearly be seen more than others in our production of our helmets. Sport, Exercise, Health Science (SEHS), Design Technology and Physics were more represented through our project, while the Biology and Chemistry had a lesser impact on the overall development of our helmets. Well, we have made safe, stylish, helmets, which I'm sure will one day make their way to developing countries, and have certainly made the world a bit better. We also had some fun, did some science, and now I really feel like watching the Martian.