British student creates flax helmet

Duo Lin helmet made from sustainable materials

by Mat Brett   October 14, 2013  

N19 - side profile

A University of Brighton graduate has developed a new cycle helmet made from sustainable materials instead of chemical-based plastics. It has a long way to go before reaching production, however.

James Dart, who graduated this year with a BA (Hons) in 3D Design, has created the Duo Lin helmet made with a bio-resin flax foam interior and an exterior shell of resin and woven flax.

James said initial trials showed Duo Lin to be tough and resilient, but it will need much more testing to ensure it meets safety standards. It is very much work in progress rather than a finished article.

“I am planning to further develop the materials for a helmet that will meet official British standards and I eventually want to take the helmet into production – I’m currently in talks with a potential commercial partner,” said James, who is now studying for his Masters in Switzerland.

James first developed Duo Lin for a University of Brighton project which has been supported by the Building Research and Innovation Deals for the Green Economy (BRIDGE), a European Union INTERREG IV-funded research project. James’s helmet will feature at the BRIDGE Eco Circus event to be held December at the university’s Grand Parade campus in Brighton.

Materials for Duo Lin were bought by BRIDGE. James used resin made from linseed oil from the common flax plant and a hardener for the outer shell and moulded it with woven flax, set under ultraviolet light. He created a foam from the bio-resin for cushioning the helmet’s interior.

“The finished concept is manufactured using 98% carbon renewable content," says James. "Even the helmet straps are made from needle-punched flax."

James has been wearing the helmet for his own use and while it is heavier than traditional helmets, he said. “I find it comfortable and it’s great for the British climate… it’s waterproof.

“The helmet is similar in form to some kayak helmets. I am now in Switzerland to continue with development. I have approached a well-known European helmet manufacturer. They are perhaps more interested in the bio-resin material for their own needs but I hope that my design, manufacturing process and testing will mean it will eventually see production.”

7 user comments

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he may want to take that huge rigid peak off before he falls on his face and breaks his neck. It reminds me of those peaked Bern 'multisport' helmets that are completely unsuitable for cycling.

Aside from that, an interesting investigation into materials and unique aesthetic.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [691 posts]
14th October 2013 - 17:19

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Looks more at home on a building site, but well done anyway - good to see some innovation.

posted by fatty [62 posts]
14th October 2013 - 17:35

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"Similar in form to some kayak helmets"? that is a straight copy of the Sweet Strutter

And no, I wouldn't wear a helmet peak like that for cycling either (or for kayaking outside of park & play)

edit: the materials used are interesting though, definitely

posted by Khegs [2 posts]
14th October 2013 - 18:11

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Brilliant idea, flax is one if the strongest natural fibres, and was a strategically important crop in WW2. Potentially this material could be used to make a vey servicable helmet. I'd seriously consider buying one. Smile

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [149 posts]
14th October 2013 - 19:35

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Am I the only one who thought "tortoise" when seeing this?

posted by thnurg [7 posts]
14th October 2013 - 22:13

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Apparently James is no longer with BRIDGE and now works with the Heuristic European Laboratory for Minimising Encephalous Trauma.

posted by chokofingrz [192 posts]
14th October 2013 - 23:25

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chokofingrz wrote:
Apparently James is no longer with BRIDGE and now works with the Heuristic European Laboratory for Minimising Encephalous Trauma.

Took me a minute!

Cut the guy some slack on the shape/peak. As mentioned, it's work in progress and any final version that does make it to market will obviously have to pass the relevant safety standards first.

As everyone has picked up on, it's the materials bit that's most interesting.

posted by Mat Brett [1718 posts]
15th October 2013 - 9:02

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