Replacing the 3K carbon fiber with TeXtreme increased the stiffness of the helmet shell, which ultimately improved impact energy distribution. In addition, by shaving weight off of the shell, Bell’s engineers could add more foam to increase the interior padding thickness, further improving overall impact performance. “Even though we are talking about millimeters, anything they can do to increase the padding size is beneficial in terms of safety,” Kolosek says.
Dr. Steven King, managing member of Kingetics LLC and a former Army podiatrist, is focused on protecting feet from a range of hazards, including musculoskeletal injuries, punctures and improvised explosive device (IED) blasts. A breakthrough moment came after King suffered a stress fracture in his own foot. Rather than undergoing surgery to place a screw in his foot, King searched for orthotics with the necessary stiffness to limit the strain on the healing fracture site. But King discovered that most orthotics were made of blown foams, so he designed a new orthotic insole that combines a CFRP spring plate and lever.
The “simple machine” physics of the spring and lever offer not only comfort, but harvest potential energy as the heel hits the ground, turning that movement into kinetic energy that speeds movement and improves stability. “Spring steel plates have been used in the past for foot pathologies … but the makers of spring steel switched to carbon composites,” King says. “I found samples of both materials and discovered that steel was heavier and had less energy return, but it did last a little longer.”
With the help of design and manufacturing firm Rocket Composites Inc., King began modifying composite components to create the desired end result. The spring is a combination of woven and unidirectional carbon fibers, Kevlar® and epoxy resins, manufactured through compression molding. “The strength and design flexibility of the carbon fiber and the resistance of the Kevlar made composites an obvious choice,” says Paul Hewitt, owner of Rocket Composites.