Composites < back
Technically speaking, any product that combines multiple materials is a composite, but when people refer to composites in the helmet world, they are generally referring to helmet shells that are constructed from sheets of glass, carbon or Kevlar fibers that have been fixed within a matrix of polymer resin. You can think of it as a high-tech laminate.
While glass, carbon and Kevlar fibers all possess different qualities (carbon fibers are, for instance, generally stronger and stiffer than fiberglass), composite shells and components can be “tuned” to specific needs – say lighter or stiffer – than ABS or polycarbonate thermoplastic helmet shells. This makes them particularly attractive to consumers, whether those consumers happen to be helicopter pilots, baseball batters, football players, motorcyclists…
Composites, however, also require a great deal of labor and the source materials can be expensive. Whereas ABS and polycarbonate can be inexpensively injection molded and demand little in the way of hand finishing, each layer of a composite must be precisely laid up, by hand, before being molded. Once the composite shell emerges from the mold, it often requires sanding and other detail finishing. For that reason, helmets featuring composite shells are often considerably more expensive than their polycarbonate counterparts.< back