Jabil supplies a special carbon fiber material for 3D printed bicycle helmets for KAV Sports

Jabil has partnered with KAV Sports to design and manufacture custom bike helmets with custom engineered materials and 3D printing technology. Thanks to the cooperation, KAV Portola helmets provide a better fit, high comfort and protection. Time magazine names them as one of the “best inventions of 2022”. Production of energy-absorbing helmet structures would not be possible with traditional manufacturing methods, and 3D printing helps KAV reduce production costs and reduce waste, making it more sustainable.

Manufactured by Jabil, custom carbon-doped polyamide (nylon) meets rigorous standards for performance and aesthetics. Traditionally manufactured helmets have limitations in terms of stability, durability and comfort as well as size, KAV wanted to use a new material as light as EPS but with excellent performance in temperatures ranging from -15°C to over 60°C. More than 20 off-the-shelf materials were evaluated, but none could meet the company’s criteria for absorbing high-speed impacts or providing sufficient stability in extreme environmental conditions.

After evaluating the market, KAV partnered with Jabil to develop a custom material that was stiff, strong, flexible, and capable of operating at both high and low temperatures. In addition to providing excellent energy absorption, the material needed to enhance interlayer adhesion for consistent performance as well as a better look and feel. A team of additive manufacturing engineers, chemists, materials scientists, and manufacturing experts at the Jabil Materials Innovation Center in Minnesota created a new, custom material that met KAV specifications. The work took nine months.

In total, nearly 30 iterations of custom formulas and polymer compounds were made before developing a proprietary nylon and carbon fiber composite. KAV then performed the necessary validation tests to obtain certification from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). When KAV launched the Portola helmet with the new material in April 2022, the company asserted that the product not only meets but exceeds the US CPSC safety standards for impact resistance by more than 25%.

The custom material developed by Jabil is available in grey, black and white, and a simple fitting process and the use of 3D printing allows the helmets to be delivered to order in two to three weeks. Building on this initial partnership, KAV plans to expand its product portfolio and market reach with Jabil’s additive manufacturing expertise, AM’s global capabilities and extensive supply chain capabilities.

Through a highly productive partnership with Jabil, KAV plans to expand its product portfolio and market reach by leveraging Jabil’s additive manufacturing capabilities, global additive manufacturing capacity and extensive supply chain capabilities.

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