3D printing company EOS has been a critical partner over the years for London-based HEXR, a company that is pioneering the use of 3D printing for custom bicycle helmets. Now, with the launch of the HEXR fitting app, the partners have brought a complete scan-to-product-solution to market for the production of custom-fit cycling helmets.
With the app, customers can order their bespoke helmets more easily, capturing faithful head scans from the comfort of their own homes. As HEXR explains, once a customer has placed an order for a helmet, they will dispatch a fitting cap within 48 hours. This cap is then worn by the user, while the app’s augmented reality guidance system helps them to capture an accurate scan of their heads. The whole scanning and fitting process reportedly only takes fives minutes.
With the data from the at-home head scan, HEXR moves into the production stage, relying on EOS 3D printing technology and a 100% plant-based polyamide material supplied by Arkema. The head scan data enables HEXR to generate a honeycomb structure that forms the inner structure of the custom helmet. Once printed, the helmet is dyed black and undergoes inspection to ensure structural integrity and finish quality. Other helmet components, like the outer shell and chinstraps, are also custom fit. Finally, customers can choose to personalize their helmets with an engraving or shell color.
“Besides consulting, we’re excited to support HEXR with our industrial 3D printing production technology, ideally suited to HEXR’s business model and products,” said Markus Glasser, Senior Vice President EMEA, EOS. “Together with a fast-growing network of established partners, such as Siemens and Arkema, we enable a digitalized and distributed manufacturing process with high-quality parts that can be 3D printed where they are needed—on-demand and tailored to our customers’ requirements. HEXR is an example of a more flexible supply chain and production technology in action, and we see many similar business cases emerging in other industries too.”
Beyond the customization benefit, HEXR states that its 3D printed honeycomb helmets are actually safer than traditional foam helmets. Its product, which has undergone and achieved CE certification, reportedly has a 26% lower risk of injury compared with conventional helmets with foam cores.
“With custom-fit intrinsic to this leading-edge manufacturing process, and superior independent safety test scores compared with traditional foam helmets, we are enabling major improvements in helmet technology made possible by 3D printing,” said Jamie Cook, CEO at HEXR.
The mass-customization production model created for HEXR was enabled in large part thanks to Siemens’ Digital Enterprise portfolio, which offers end-to-end solutions for highly automated and digitally driven production.
“We are glad that we could support HEXR and EOS with our Digital Enterprise portfolio,” explained Dr. Karsten Heuser, Vice President Additive Manufacturing at Siemens Digital Industries. “With the help of our end-to-end solutions, we created a digital twin of an industrialized AM factory and helped to optimize the design and streamline production processes—even before production started. By combining simulations, design optimization, and production scenarios with a high degree of automation, we were able to predict and reduce cost per part significantly—enabling HEXR to scale their application into mass production.”