As of this update all Tree Piece Helmets are made custom and not certified. Currently there is no available means for certification of custom built helmets in the USA and so no amount of success in the testing we do will translate to certification. Our goal is to develop non-customized lines that are standardized in design so that they can be placed in the CPSC certification process.
Testing that has been completed on Tree Piece Helmets includes:
- Materials Testing - This is where materials such as wood and cork are isolated and tested for performance characteristics against mainstream materials such as ABS plastic, Polycarbonate Plastics and EPS Foam. This testing has been carried out using a small drop tower apparatus at the department of wood science, Oregon State University.
- Samples Testing - This is where composite "pucks" are created which roughly approximate actual helmets without having to build an destroy a finished helmet. This kind of testing is carried out at a CPSC accredited laboratory using the same larger drop tower that is used in standardized helmet impact testing. This allows for quick results that allow Coyle to do more rapid R&D.
- Prototype Testing - This is the real thing. Finished helmets getting blown up on the ACT Labs drop tower. This is done according to CPSC standars (Consumer Products Safety Commission). The video below is of one of the first prototype tests done. In it you will see that the helmet passes with a score of 125 g's, well below the 300 g cutoff for failure.
Making test pieces that fail tells us where the boundaries of performance exist and what direction to take with our unique composite materials. All of our prototypes passed the tests they have been put through AND there is plenty of room for further development. Because we are able to machine all of our parts and don't have to rely on expensive and hard to build molds we are able to prototype new designs and composites faster than other helmet manufacturers. Using wood shells (as opposed to plastic) has given an advantage in reaching the goal of increased impact energy attenuation
In the end we get more scrutiny for doing something that is unfamiliar. This is, of course, natural. Typically people don't quickly question the safety of a plastic helmet they see in a store. Even before looking for proof of testing or certification people often assume the plastic helmet is at least adequate (there is, in fact, a great deal of variation in the performance of plastic helmets that CANNOT be ascertained directly by the customer or even the sales person). Making something as different as Tree Piece invites questions which require commitment to answer. The best way to do this is to test, test, test. Coyle intends to stay committed to this and appreciate the motivation that good questions provide.