With operations in China and Vietnam, Hong Kong Sports (HKSM), a high-quality helmet maker, was established in 1993 as a division of Yee Fung International Limited with the mission to transform Yee Fung’s disposable packaging foam business into a factory that manufactures helmets to save lives.
Over the last 30 years, Hong Kong Sports has manufactured over 100 million helmets and goggles to protect athletes in cycling, snow, and moto sports for top brands such as FOX, Oakley, Specialized, Lazer, POC, Black Diamond, Giro, Bell and Smith.
HKSM operates under three guiding principles.
In 2019, HKSM started a journey with a technology partner, Kurtz Holding GmbH & Co. KG of Germany to explore a new manufacturing technology that would ultimately amplify all three of these principles. The secret sauce was Kurtz’s newly invented “steam-less” all-electric particle foam-molding process. The core technology utilizes a radio frequency electromagnetic wave (RF) to cure particle foam instead of the traditional steam process, which represents the current state-of-the-art technology.
Hong Kong Sports partnered with Kurtz to custom design and build the world’s first synchronous continuous automated RF helmet production machine. This first machine was completed in March 2022 in Germany and is now being installed at Hong Kong Sports factory in China.
First, it’s the most environmentally friendly way to make a helmet by a long measure. Conventional steam molding utilizes 90-to-95 per cent of its energy in turning water into steam to heat expanded polystyrene (EPS), then chills the same steam back into water to cool the helmet back to ambient temperature during its six-to-eight minute molding cycling. While it’s a senseless waste of energy, over the past 50 years it was the only way to make a safe helmet. Kurtz’ revolutionary RF technique does the same job with a short duration of RF wave, within a 30-to-60 second molding cycle.
Second, it’s also an all-electric process that uses clean energy and producing zero emissions, just like an electric car.
Third, testing reveals that this process yields a superior product. Our recent comparison of an RF moulded helmet versus a steam moulded helmet shows that the RF process produces a helmet that can reduce g-force by 10-to-20 per cent – when subjected to impacts under certain test anvils at all conditions. This is due to the very nature of RF – while steam fuses EPS bead from the outside of the helmet to the inside, RF reverses the direction and literally cooks it from the inside out. Fusion at the surface of each bead, especially the ones on the inside of a helmet thus yields better impact performance.
This question is asked often by our customers. With the ability to mold particle foam without relying on steam opens the possibility to mold helmets out of a variety of biodegradable foam.
Engineers at Kurtz’ in Germany and Hong Kong Sports in China, overcame the seemingly unsurmountable challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and, over the last two years, built the world’s first automated, all-electric and zero-emission helmet production machine, which brings all three of our operating principles together.
A better helmet with a 90 per cent energy saving, this ingenious invention was borne from the brightest minds in Germany. It has been a bi-continent technological collaboration to ultimately create a better product that just might help save our planet while also saving our heads.
Several brands have committed to this revolutionary technology. Will you join us on this journey?