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News release, November 29, 2010

First CNT motorcycle helmet from Schuberth GmbH

Carbon nanotubes (CNT) make the helmet considerably lighter and more stable than conventional products

Magdeburg, 29 November 2010. Schuberth GmbH, one of the leading manufacturers of motorcycle helmets and industrial safety helmets, has developed a technological prototype of a CNT-reinforced helmet within the research network Inno.CNT Innovation Alliance, which is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The advantages of the innovative development include greater stability and lighter weight compared to conventional products. At the same time, Schuberth expects to reduce manufacturing costs, as less material is required to produce the helmet shell and less post-processing is necessary. With this innovation, Schuberth also wants to satisfy customers’ increasing demands with regard to the safety and lower weight of motorcycle helmets over the long term. However, the company faces several challenges to get the product ready for the market.

The secret of the outstanding material properties of the CNT helmet lies in the microscopic carbon tubes. “The safety shell of the helmet was made, as in conventional production processes, with fibrous material soaked with resin and then tempered,” explains Dr. Erhan Serbest, head of product development at Schuberth GmbH. “However, for the CNT helmet we added carbon nanotubes as an extra filler to the resin.” The diameter of the tiny tubes is only a few nanometers (a billionth of the meter), yet their material properties are amazing: relative to their weight, they have a significantly higher specific stability than steel or carbon fibers. This also improves the characteristics of the composite fiber material of which the safety shell of the helmet is made.

Schuberth has already been working on the development of the CNT helmet for over a year. Dr. Serbest has an extremely high opinion of the collaboration within the research network: “As an SME we benefit greatly from being part of the Inno.CNT research alliance, particularly from the transfer of expertise and the exchange of ideas and information with the various partners. The collaboration is very professional and communication is transparent.”

According to Schuberth, there are a number of issues to be resolved before the helmet can be approved for road traffic. “We still have a lot of research to do. For instance, the resin becomes more viscous with the addition of CNT, so we need to adapt the processing methods accordingly,” says Dr. Serbest. Furthermore, the helmet will be subjected to the entire internal approval test – a test procedure that corresponds to the tests carried out by TÜV Rheinland.

Schuberth GmbH: High-tech “Made in Germany”

The helmet manufacturer Schuberth, based in the German city of Magdeburg, has developed and produced high-end head protection systems for over 70 years. With a multitude of innovative products, the company is one of the leading manufacturers worldwide of motorcycle, Formula 1 and motor sports helmets as well as of innovative head protection solutions for industrial safety, firefighting, the police and the military. In particular, the company’s experience in Formula 1, the king of motor sports, continuously provides new ideas for product development that set the standards for head protection systems.