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Winner - Gold

Competition: Spark:Concept
Designer: Mr. Maxime DUBREUCQ - Advanced Product Design Student
Design Type: Personal head protection for miners.

THE BRIEF : We followed and studied Erik Stenberg’s working situation during several days. Erik is working forty hours per week, at 1300 meters underground, in the Renström Mine, a few kilometers away from the polar circle (Sweden). Erik is working in a dangerous environment. In the mine, wearing a helmet is essential for his safety. Research demonstrates that existing head protection on the market have poor ergonomics and are initially designed for industrial purposes, not for mining operations. Today, the head protection used in the mine is an incorrect combination of a standard hardhat in addition to an over-weighted frontlamp. This top-heavy quick fix, results to in unbalanced protection and expose sminers to serious back injuries. (Everyday and prolonged neck stress leads to irreversible vertebrae damages, such as Low Back Pain (LBP) and Upper Back Pain (UPB) and cyphosis syndromes). The challenge was to prevent these injuries by providing a safe and balanced personal head protection for extreme mining environments . An ergonomic, and protective solution, comfortable for several hours, and communicating an enthusiastic mining image. THE INTENT : Although creating a lighter helmet could solve the initial problem. It was NOT for me a holistic solution. While doing the project, I’ve tried to re-think the way the head can be protected by looking to the nature. In this project, my intent was to create a personal a symbiotic product for the user. I always kept in my mind to design a head protection capable to be hyper-protective and so comfortable for the user he would feel like it’s a part of his body. It is so interesting to see how nature evolves to find the best solution : EG is a bio-inspired concept, taking it’s reference in nature’s protection. Like the human skin, EG is composed of three different layers with specialized functions: 1) The first part, directly in contact with the head, is a comfortable and adjustable tailored hat. This layer acts likes a muscle, considerably increasing the ergonomic and comfort for the user. The main purpose of this first layer fit to the morphology and move according to the body movements. The low density of the material keeps away moisture and perspiration: a considerable advantage when some mines can reach 95% of humidity in the air. It is a personal, ergonomic and hygienic solution that can be easily washed and/or replaced. 2) On top of this first layer is integrated an extreme protection padding, made of shock absorbing foam. This second layer can be compared to the grease under the skin : It reduces impacts and protects the brain and crane against lethal shocks. (Material : Poron XRD™ 90% Shock absorption. For more infos. : refers to Tech. Specs.). 3) Finally, a third layer lies on top of the others. It is a light and resistant piece of polycarbonate which acts as a barrier against perforation, liquid metal and other industrial acids and dangerous liquids. This last layer integrates the equiment of a miner : SuperBright HeadLamp, UltraLight rear battery and High-Visibility safety stripes. THE PROCESS : The linked video, related to EG process, describe the rigor that informed my project. Please, do have a look to it ! :) THE VALUE : Like the human skin, EG is a bio-inspired concept, taking it’s reference in nature’s protection. EG’s protective layers can be easily replaced and reduces the ecological impact and the maintenance of the product.) In addition to these features: the tailored part can eventually be worn after working hours. Giving the possibility to create an emotional link with the working equipment and to exhibit the mining standards. Conveying the mining image outside the work is a perfect medium to recruit new labor to experience the mining environment and enhance miners’ self-esteem of their work. Today, EG is the first personal head protection created for, and dedicated to, miners and extreme mining environment.