Create a free account to continue

Artistic Concept Turns Into Firefighter Helmet

An art student at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design decided to dream up a new firefighting helmet that better integrates radio communication and respirator systems.

Each year, Pasadena Art Center College of Design showcases the most innovative work created by senior student artists. The designs and ideas found in this show often inspire creative trends worldwide.

Nakaya’s firefighter helmet was created with Solid Concepts’ proprietary ID-Light technology. Projects previously requiring foam or solid SLA are now turning to ID-Light due to the sturdy light-weight properties of this process.

For the centerpiece of his senior collection, Art Center senior, Joshua Nakaya decided to create a firefighter helmet unlike anything currently on the market. He began the initial design development process by researching the many problems firefighters face while in the line of duty. "I found that the most important needs of a firefighter included more reliable radio communication interaction and more seamless integration between the helmet and the respirator components," explained Nakaya.

Nakaya's resulting helmet design addresses these issues among others while keeping with the artistic flair in which Art Center prides itself. The helmet incorporates key alterations that improve the wearer's ability to safely fight fires. Features include an integrated radio interface with speakers positioned above the ears for better communication reception, radio call buttons built into the jaw piece for physically secure interaction, and external speakers for better communication with fellow firefighters and accident victims. Additionally, an adjustable visor is secured to the jaw piece, which provides eye and face protection with a clear face shield. LEDs line the brim of the helmet to provide greater visibility.

When it came to creating his helmet, Nakaya wanted to ensure a high quality model was generated that accurately depicted his design. Solid Concepts, Art Center's preferred Rapid Prototyping vendor, teamed with Nakaya to create his helmet with their proprietary IDLight(TM) (Industrial Design Light) technology.

ID-Light uses standard Stereolithography (SLA) materials and processes, but with a proprietary laser scanning pattern. The laser produces a thin outer shell that encases a drainable inner scaffolding-like matrix, which makes ID-Light 1/5th to 1/12th the weight of similar solid SLA models. The result was a rigid, accurate, and lightweight product -- perfect for the unique helmet design Nakaya planned to display at the senior showcase.

"RP technologies like ID-Light are easy to work with. With so much emphasis on 3D modeling in design, it's important to be able to produce and evaluate designs in true, physical 3D. RP lets you do that quickly," stated Nakaya. "The light-weight qualities of ID-Light are excellent."

With ID-Light, Nakaya was able to replicate a full-scale helmet that would have been too heavy and too expensive using traditional rapid prototyping methods. Using ID-Light the helmet model translated the light-weight properties of the design while retaining the geometry's accuracy. Plus, the hard outer shell created by the technology offered an exceptional paint surface.

For more information visit