Independence, Cycling & Rapid Prototyping

As it is Independence Day here in the U.S., we’d like to take this moment to make an observation about flags.

As it is Independence Day here in the U.S., we’d like to take this moment to make an observation about flags.

As is well known, the Stars & Stripes is red, white and blue.

The French Tricolor is also red, white and blue.

And the British Union Jack is, of course, red, white and blue.

All of which is a somewhat convoluted way of getting to this, which is a photo of part of the British Cycling Team, which will be competing in the London Olympics. (The photo has sufficient quantities of red, white and blue to make it apt for this day in the U.S., and one could make the additional linkage to the fact that in France the Tour de France is underway.)

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Photo: © Mark Eaton/Dreamstime.com

Rather than just being a gratuitous photograph of colors and wheeled vehicles, it is something more. It turns out that the helmet liners for those helmets were designed and built by a British firm, Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC), which also developed the anti-rotation Phillips motorcycle helmets.

The liners, which are covered with a casing, are what protect the riders’ skulls. They were milled from Styrofoam. IDC’s models division, which specializes in rapid prototyping with 3D printing and other processes, produced 40 of the helmets for the team.

Noted Peter Pendergast, head of Prototyping at IDC Models, “This is the second time we have been selected; last time we produced the cycle helmets for the British team at Beijing and they came home with gold medals. We wish them the same success at the London Olympics.”

Being Independence Day and all, and, as you may recall, that is as in independence from the United Kingdom, and as you also may recall, the French helped in the struggle for independence, we would like to say that while we wish the British team well, we’re hoping the American cyclists bring home the gold.