There are many items in the cycling industry that are made with carbon fiber these days, but for 2013 the hot new material might be one that was patented back in the UK in 1856. Known as corrugated paper, or most commonly known as cardboard.
Earlier in the season there was a $20 cardboard bike unveiled and now a student at the Royal College of Art in based in London has designed a bike helmet that’s made with cardboard.
He has called it the Kranium, and his design promises to absorb a cycling crash and protect the rider.
The cardboard material the artist Anirudha Surabhi is using is actually classified as corrugated fiberboard, which consists of a single fluted corrugated sheet with one or two flat inner pieces. This is widely known to many as cardboard, but there are numerous varieties of paper boards out there.
The key with his design is that Cardboard crumples — and that’s perfect for impact properties.
The key to his design isn’t actually the paper but the corrugated nature inside the material. The artist actually modeled the helmet design after the woodpecker cartilage that has high impact-absorbing qualities. It’s reported the birds often experience quite severe impacts to the head as it striking the tree over and over, so they have adapted with cartilage to absorb this.
So the artists rendition of this corrugated cartilage acting as a buffer is a helmet that actually mimicked the woodpecker structure and so corrugated fiberboard or cardboard as it’s known seemed like the obvious choice for him.
So Surabhi created his early prototypes using the honeycomb-shaped corrugated paper instead of going the route of polystyrene that is traditionally used for helmets made today. His result is the Kranium Bike Helmet, in which the German helmet and bike lock company named Abus has already licensed with him and plans on releasing them with the clear plastic shell shown above for 2013.
While the product might seem lower-tech by nature, but the helmet was actually developed to meet or exceed the Europeon safety standards practice. Its been reported that the corrugated cardboard design will absorb 3-times the impact energy of many of the polystyrene designed helmets, even after being subjected to multiple impacts. The helmet has actually undergone significant testing to back these claims up, with extensive tests that were conducted in the UK, Germany and China.
“Ideally they test five helmets and give you the go-ahead but since this was a unique concept they tested 50-plus helmets as they didn’t believe the results were that good,” the artist Surabhi reported. “They ultimately gave us the certification, saying that it was much better at impact absorption.”
The other question is what about water? There is no worries about a little water hurting the helmet, despite the fact that the minimalist of rain will turn the sturdiest box out there into a soggy paper pile.
His helmet is able to stand up to the elements, because it’s been treated to beat sweat- and rain as well. The artist is also looking into creating one of these Kranium Helmets that passes the motorcycle rated safety standard.