It All Starts With A Shell...
It all starts with carbon fiber shells. For AGV, the shells are outsourced, molded by a third party before being delivered to the Movena plant for assembly.
This is what a helmet looks like devoid of all its components.
The Good Old Tape Trick
Even future helmet need some taping before a paint job. The carbon fiber lids are sanded down by hand before masks and tape are applied to cover certain areas of the shell that will receive a different treatment.
For instance, in the case of the Valentino Rossi 2019 Winter Test design, the chin of the lid needs to remain black, while the rest is painted bright yellow.
It's Morphin' Time!
The naked shells are lined up on poles mounted to a specialized conveyor belt that runs them through a chamber equipped with automated spray paint nozzles. The shells will go through this process a number of time. The same machine takes care of the base, the different coats of paint, as well as the the top layer of varnish, applied later on in the process.
Six Layers Later
These 2019 Winter Test shells have gone through the spray paint cycle six times and have received two coats of opaque paint, followed by one coat of white paint, two of yellow, and finally a coat of stabilizer.
The masks and tape are then removed and the seems between the painted and unpainted areas are gently sanded down to avoid an uneven transition between the two areas.
The shells also go through a first round of quality control—any flaws are marked. The flawed lids then cycle back through the first steps.
The Purpose Of Water
After the shells are given an additional sanding, they are cleaned up and sent over to a technician in charge of applying the graphics by hand.
The process is similar to temporary tattoos: the graphics are printed on specialized paper. The sheets are dunked in water, then applied to the shell, transferring the graphic to the prepped surface.
Sleeking Things Down
The graphics don't come in a single piece; the designs are broken down into pieces to makes them easier to apply to the helmets' round surface. Once a portion of the motif has been applied to the helmet, the technician places the lid on a pole.
Armed with a scraper, she gradually smooths out the graphics on the surface, removing any air bubbles or folds and ensuring the design is aligned with the markers.
Each section of the design takes 15 minutes to dry before another section is applied. The technician also has to make sure the designs overlap correctly and evenly. They are able to complete 25 shells per day on average using this technique.
Bake In The Oven For 40 Minutes
Once all the sections of the motif have been applied, the shells spend 40 minutes in an oven to set the graphics.
After cooling down, the protective film on top of the graphics is peeled by hand before the lids are given a thorough wash.
The Protective Layer
The shells are gently sanded once more to prep them for their last run through the spray chamber where they receive a protective coat.
A worker then controls each shell for quality before each one receives its holographic homologation tag.
The prepped shells are now ready to begin their trip on the assembly line. The first step is the addition of the rubber components. Ribbons of rubber are applied and glued to the seams around the visor and the neck of the helmet.
Belts And Whistles
The shell is then sent over to a technician that adds the belts used to attach the helmet under the neck, as well as the air vents plastic inserts on the chin and on top of the head.
Time For The Protectors To Go In
The next step involves inserting each pieces of EPS foam shell into the lid and gluing them into place by hand. Each piece of high-density foam has its own homologation tag to ensure its quality.
Clamps are used to hold the styrofoam into place while the glue dries.
A Puzzle Made Of EPS
The high-density styrofoam protectors are assembled by hand by a technician before being handed over to the worker in charge of fitting them inside the helmets.
It's All Coming Together!
The inner layer as well as the chin and cheek pads are snapped into place inside the helmet. The visor is then attached to the shell and secured into place.
This specific model also receives a spoiler, attached at the back of the head.
More Quality Control
The fully assembled helmet goes through a final round of quality control. The technician tests all the mechanisms to make sure all the parts are in place and in working order.
All The Tags!
This is also the step at which the helmet receives all its stickers and tags, once it passes QC of course.
Ready To Hit The Shelves
Each helmet is identified with a barcode which allows workers to follow its progress through the assembly process. At this point, the quality control technician scans the helmet one last time and weighs it to ensure it meets the standards.
The helmets are then placed in their pouch and packed in boxes, ready to be shipped out to future customers.
This special edition AGV Pista GP R 2019 Winter Test edition retails for about €1,500 ($1,700).
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