What is behind our COMPOSITE FUSION™ technology? So many times when looking at a company’s claim I ask myself “Is this real or is this just salesman speak?”. I certainly can’t make up your mind for you, but I can tell you about our patented technology and why we are excited about it.
A helmet has two essential elements that help protect you: a shell and energy absorbing foam. These two components are built to dissipate the energies of an impact to your head. The shell is the hard outer surface of a helmet and has 3 functions. First, it prevents sharp object penetration. Second, it protects the energy absorbing foam from abrasion. Lastly, it spreads out the force of an impact over a greater area.
As the second component of the puzzle, the energy absorbing foam is the inner muscle of a helmet and the more active component of the two. It does the bulk of the work, cushioning and redirecting the G-forces of any impact that tries to work its way towards your head.
Standard helmet technology constructs the shell (made from various composite materials) and the energy absorbing foam composite (Expanded PolyStyrene or EPS) as two separate pieces. Simply shooting small beads into a mold makes the EPS foam. The beads are then steamed, expanded and bound into the “generic” shape of the exterior shell. This “shaped” EPS form is then pulled from the mold and allowed to dry, and then inserted into the shell by hand (being spot glued or taped into place inside).
This means that during an impact to the head, there will actually be a microsecond of ‘air’ as the energy is transferred between one protective material (the shell) and the next (the EPS foam). The result of this separate-but-glued-construction is a less efficient transfer of energy when a helmet is impacted.
Another unfortunate consequence of standard helmet construction is that over time the glue joints may wear down, which leaves users with EPS foam that is loose inside the shell. In addition to being uncomfortable, it can also be potentially dangerous, as the EPS foam may not stay in its intended position during an impact.
Our patented COMPOSITE FUSION™ technology incorporates the EPS foam as an integral part of the shell. Our EPS foam is formed inside the exterior shell and not in a separate mold (meaning no separation in molding). As the small beads expand during the steaming process, they are directly fused with the exterior shell itself (no spot glue or tape is needed). This is a big deal because now, without a gap or requiring a third party bonding agent, the impact energy can be transferred to the EPS foam more efficiently and smoother, allowing for a stronger materials connection.
The introduction of COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus is the next progression of this revolutionary construction. COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus technology incorporates unique pyramids of different foam densities within the EPS/Shell connection. During impact, as energy is transferred from shell to foam, the unique pyramid shapes collapse first, thereby directing the energy sideways within the foam, instead of linearly down to your head. This spreads the impact load over a greater area, allowing us to use softer density foam next to your head, right where you want it.
COMPOSITE FUSION™ is only enhanced by our choice of exclusive CONTEGO™ EPS. The Latin term for “Shield”, CONTEGO™ characterizes the purest formulation of Expanded PolyStyrene to provide an excellent combination of densities for shock absorption and a perfect choice for Composite Fusion™ in our helmets.
And shock absorption isn’t just limited to helmets. Our body armor line also utilizes several of the same impact protection technologies. For example, in our SARPA™ Body Suit, we use a hard external shell to protect vital body parts and multi-impact NITREX™ foam inside to expand shock absorption. By using these different protective materials we are diffusing the impact energy to a higher level than ever before without compromising comfort and flexibility. Our focus is always to put the right materials in the right places!
We look forward to the opportunity of proving that Kali Protectives’ strives to be the leader in body protection. Testing and retesting is a vital part of our development cycle and we use the data from our test labs not simply to “pass safety checks”, but to develop and refine our products. We also rely on a dedicated team of riders who put our gear through the harshest conditions. Our company is made of riders, so this is a never-ending process that we are all passionate about.
AN INSIDE LOOK AT KALI’S COMPOSITE FUSION PLUS HELMET TECHNOLOGY
by Mark Jordan
Reprinted with permission from DECLINE MAGAZINE, MARCH 2011
In a relatively short time, Kali Protectives has quickly gained popularity in the mountain bike helmet scene. Along with their graphic designs and helmet profiles, the main draw to Kali’s helmets is they are very lightweight but still offer proper protection. We got the scoop directly from Founder and Engineer, Brad Waldron, about Kali’s patented COMPOSITE FUSION™ and COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus technology that enables them to build these high-tech designs.
The purpose of a helmet is to absorb the energy of an impact to minimize or prevent a head injury. A helmet does this by transferring the energy to the foam, which crushes as it absorbs the impact. However, the way in which a helmet is constructed can play an important role in how the helmet absorbs the energy.
There are basically two ways that most companies construct a helmet. The traditional construction of full-face and skate-style helmets features impact foam glued to a hard outer shell. The other common way, which is typically used in cross-country-style helmets, has the foam molded directly to the hard exterior shell and is commonly referred to as in-molding.
Using an advanced form of in-molding, Kali has developed two designs that effectively disperse impact energy better than a traditional full-face helmet, which allows them to offer the same or better protection as other helmets in a lighter package. The secret is in their patented manufacturing technique and tooling; Kali is the first company to figure out how to produce the full outside shell of a full-face and then to have the EPS injected inside that formed shell. Here’s a quick overview of a traditional full-face helmet construction compared to Kali’s COMPOSITE FUSION™ and COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus technology:
As you can see by this image, a traditional full-face helmet design features foam glued to the inside of the outer shell. While this helmet construction can provide adequate protection, it is not ideal because the design can leave gaps in between the foam and the shell. When a helmet sustains an impact, the force must first break through the hard shell before it gets to the part of the helmet that dissipates the energy. Besides offering a more durable helmet covering, the main role of a hard exterior is to help spread out the impact energy across more of the foam inside the helmet to absorb the shock. In addition, many helmet manufacturers use dual density foam to help absorb the impact energy more efficiently.
COMPOSITE FUSION™ Construction:
Kali’s Composite Fusion™ design provides a super tight (almost molecular) bond between the helmet shell and the energy absorbing material inside. This tight connection between these two materials prevents gaps, which transfers shock more efficiently through to the softer EPS foam materials. It also allows Kali to use a thinner shell that breaks down faster and allows the energy to be absorbed more efficiently. Kali also uses dual density foam, with the softer material near the head, to dissipate the energy sustained from an impact.
Helmet’s with COMPOSITE FUSION™: Kali’s Bike line features the AVATAR™ full-face, SAMRA™ dirt lid, and AVITA™ and AMARA™ cross-country helmets. Kali’s MX line features the AATMA™ and Kali’s Street line features the NIRA™.
COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus Construction:
Taking the COMPOSITE FUSION™ technology a step further, Kali’s COMPOSITE FUSION ™ Plus has the same super tight connection but also incorporates a special impact foam design. Using geometric shapes of different densities inside the foam, the Composite Fusion™ Plus technology further helps dissipate the shock forces as they travel through the foam. In this image, the different colors of the dual density foam highlight the pyramid shape of the Composite Fusion™ Plus design, with the softer material near the head.
Helmet’s with COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus: Kali’s Bike line is rumored to receive an AVATAR II with COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus, possibly also an XC lid. Kali’s MX line features the PRANA™ Carbon and PRANA™ FRP and Kali’s Street line features the NAZA™ Carbon and NAZA™ FRP.
Based on thousands of actual test results, this G-Force Scale demonstrates how impact force is registered and dissipated as the helmet takes impact. As you can see by the illustration, different types of helmet construction and materials absorb and dissipate impact energy differently.
Traditional As a traditional helmet absorbs the force of an impact, the transition from the hard shell to the foam is highlighted by a dip in the impact energy being absorbed (as the shell breaks down). This is not only inefficient, but can allow the energy to slightly magnify rather than continue dissipating.
COMPOSITE FUSION™ The way in which a COMPOSITE FUSION™ helmet absorbs the energy of an impact is much more fluid and effective than a traditional helmet. The smooth curve provides constant impact dissipation through the super tight shell/foam connection, reducing energy spikes.
COMPOSITE FUSION™ PLUS Compared to a COMPOSITE FUSION™ helmet, a COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus helmet is even more efficient at absorbing impact energy, thanks to it additionally channeling impact energy laterally through its geometric shapes of dual-density foams. This promotes constant energy dissipation until the impact is relieved.
The G-Force Scale sidebar is a good way to compare the different ways that a Traditional, COMPOSITE FUSION™ and COMPOSITE FUSION™ Plus helmet design deals with energy absorption. You can see that Kali’s helmet designs disperse impact energy much more effectively and efficiently than a traditional full-face helmet. This not only makes their helmets safer but also allows them to be lighter. All of Kali’s mountain bike helmets are pass CPSC certified in North American and EN1078 certified in Europe, and their motorcycle helmets are DOT and ECE22.05 certified.
We really like Kali’s helmet designs. They have a comfortable fit and the weight is really noticeable during a full day of riding. In addition, the lighter weight of Kali’s motocross helmets is another incentive for riders looking for more protection than a mountain bike full-face.
For more info on Kali helmets, go to kaliprotectives.com
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