Athletes at the Winter Olympics are wearing protective helmets lined with a flexible, fusion-bonded honeycomb material originally developed for aerospace applications.
The Skull Comp Helmet is made by Swedish ski equipment manufacturer POC using Supracor honeycomb. It won the 2006 Volvo Sports Design Award for Active Safety in sports at the ISPO fair in Munich and has been selected by the US ski team at the Turin Games.
Supracor’s urethane honeycomb is integrated into helmets and back protectors to help prevent serious head, neck and spinal injuries from racing accidents on the slopes.
The cellular structure of the materials gives them “memory” and varying resistance, enabling them to instantaneously resume their original shape, conform naturally to head and body shape without restricting movement and spread impact over a wide area. The honeycomb cells also circulate air and evaporate moisture to help maintain ambient body temperature.
The material was initially used in wheelchair cushions and hospital mattresses for pressure sore prevention. It has since been developed for use in safety applications such as bulletproof vests, jet fighter aircraft seats and bumpers for amusement park rides.