I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been led to believe that heads and brains are important parts of the human infrastructure, and protecting them makes a lot of sense. The other thing worth keeping in mind is that all heads are shaped slightly differently and I’m surprised we haven’t seen more, better fitting helmets come to market. That’s where custom, 3D printed helmets come in. For just over $300the advocates of 3D printing in Cav will send you a fitting kit to take some measurements, print your helmet and two or three weeks later the delivery van will show up at your door. The company just opened a factory in Silicon Valley’s Redwood City to begin fulfilling orders from across the US
“Consumers like the thought of locally produced goods, but the premium associated with paying a living wage, operating in a carbon-responsible manner and US regulations act as a disincentive.” Recent supply chain woes have left companies scrambling to secure raw materials and inventory at high cost, undoing decades of just-in-time production and fueling global inflation. They are forced to make tough decisions that compromise speed, quality and cost,” said Whitman Kwok, founder and CEO of Kav, in an interview with TechCrunch. “Kav set out to create the world’s most advanced helmets and, in the process, set a beacon for how manufacturing can excel, not despite labor, environmental and regulatory considerations, but because of them.”
Kav has built a solar-powered 3D printing factory capable of printing “thousands of helmets a month.” The company released its first helmet for $390 in April, but has since optimized manufacturing workflows and managed to bring the price of a custom helmet down to $320 a piece.
Before opening the current factory, Kwok told me the company was creating proof-of-concept helmets in a “glorious garage,” but the new lab is loaded with a bunch of new technology and custom-made materials for printing helmets.
“We’re on our fifth generation of printers,” said Kwok, which are highly modified Prusa printers. “We retrofitted all new hardware, rewrote all the software, and built environmental controls over the entire cluster. We use a proprietary carbon fiber nylon composite formulated for shock reduction and stability in temperatures ranging from -15C to 70C. It took 27 reps, but there’s nothing else like it on the market.”