3M asked us to design a new modern safety helmet for their product portfolio, for use in construction, oil, gas, utilities, forestry, and manufacturing. The helmet needed to reflect the emerging trends and needs across Europe and North America. It was critical for the helmet to be adaptable for use across different sectors and work conditions, as well as to each continent’s standards.
A product is only well designed if it fulfills its users’ needs and desires. We began this project by performing extensive field research to get a detailed picture of what users needed out of the new helmet. This research provided us with tons of useful material that became the foundation for the design work.
Our challenge was to create a design that would not only match the requirements of different work environments, but that would also be adaptable to the different standards, trends and needs across Europe and North America. We aimed for a solution that, with minimal modification in the production line, would allow for slightly varied versions for the markets of each continent
In this project, prototyping turned out to be particularly important as it allowed us to test and optimize our design with accessories and make sure the solutions were ergonomically the best they could.
As 3M is a market leader, the design had to stand out from the competition and be recognizable as a 3M product. We came up with a very iconic and distinguishing “X” on the back of the helmet. It was a visceral design detail that the client could latch on to, and it survived all the way into production and even became part of the product’s name—X5000.
Users of the helmet can attach a range of hearing, eye and face protection products offered by 3M. With the adaptable helmet design we created, 3M can offer clients a myriad of different configurations to fit their needs.
The helmet’s ergonomics are enhanced by an innovative, easy-turning ratchet suspension system that helps reduce forehead pressure. The formal language is inspired by sports. The helmet has a shorter brim to improve upward vision, dynamic ventilation and airflow to improve heat management, and a rigid structure, signaling safety and comfort. It is made using minimal material and separable parts, which makes for easy recycling.