Iterative Design Makes the Best Helmets

One of KAV's three core values is relentless improvement and this is evident in our design process. We're fortunate to not only have the best designers but a team that's built the most advanced helmets in the industry.

The process starts with understanding what athletes need. The team is made up of athletes who have won their share of competitions, engineers who worked on rocket engines and a small search engine called Google, and even a professional musician. The diverse team brings a fresh perspective to everything we do. We interview people and watch how they use their existing equipment. The initial requirements are captured in a living design briefing.

Our designer, Peter collaborates with Mike to sketch to get basic ideas and to find a style that is functional and stylish and meets our brand guidelines. We want the wearer to love what's on their head, and we want everyone around them to know it's a KAV.

My favorite part is when Peter hits the clay. Watching him work, is like watching Michelangelo sculpt the David. Your eyes never know whether to focus on the artist or the art. The advantage of clay over sketches is our ability to see our helmet come to life, how light hits, how different features reveal themselves. A helmet can go through dozen of iterations at this phase, reshaping entire sections or working on a subtle bone line, but the effort is worth it.

Once we feel like we have a winning design, we scan the clay to bring it into CAD where we digitize the design and start engineering for 3D printing. We bring our cluster of 3D printers to print out the parts. The benefit of having everything made here in Redwood City is that design, engineering, and testing are all co-located in the same space. While Peter works, Dave has been leading engineering to write the software that will ultimately fabricate the helmet, developing polymers optimized for the particular helmet, and building test equipment to support the rapid development cycle to come.

What makes KAV different is that we don't treat design as a linear process. In hockey, we redid large portions of the design as engineering and testing determined ways to make the helmet more protective. In the same way design influences how all the tech that comes from the propellor heads manifest itself. Prototyping and manufacturing are the same, so everything we learn then goes back to the drawing board to see how it interacts with design, to determine what functional requirements engineering needs to evolve, and the impact to testing. We do this weekly, and you can follow along on our weekly progress on Kickstarter throughout our campaign.

Till next time,