Next Generation of Hard Hats


Clayco is a pioneer in creating the latest industry jobsite safety standards. That is why Clayco reached out to SCAD to collaborate on leading innovation in the creation of the new hard hat. The furthering of hard hat efficiency is one of the key components to creating a safer work environment overall.

The Mission

Clayco is always looking for ways to improve safety. We challenged SCAD to design a new innovative hard hat. The general design of hard hats has not developed much over the last sixty years and Clayco’s vision for this project was to patent and manufacture a “Hard Hat of the Future.” We desired the modernized design to include elements that are sustainable, durable, lightweight, comfortable and safe.

Meet the Team

The Clayco SCAD pro design team was a combination of students from five different countries studying a variety of four different majors and minors. Within the team, the students’ major studies included design management, equestrian study, graphic design and industrial design. The diversity of the team’s skill sets allowed them to derive multiple design approaches to inventing original, complex and cutting-edge designs.

Setting the Scene:
The History of the Hard Hat

Future Projections

Issues to Address

Primary Research

The SCADpro team was invited to visit the nearby Clayco jobsite at SCAD Atlanta. Clayco broke ground on the 14-story residence hall in March 2018 and it was here that the students were granted the opportunity to observe and get to know their end users much better. By watching the Clayco laborers perform their daily tasks and by interviewing the jobsite crew for their insight, the SCADpro team gathered firsthand information.

Construction Site Observations

While interacting with Clayco employees and experiencing a large-scale construction site, we gained many insights.

Construction Interviews

Through interviews we are able to learn more about workers’ personal opinions, thoughts and questions about their current hard hats and the future design of them.

If you could create the ultimate hard hat what would it be like? 7% no straps. 8% Sun protection. 13% attachments. 21% small and lightweight. 24% ventillation. 27% anatomical.

Secondary Research

Secondary research was drawn from existing sources of information to expand our knowledge of all aspects of our project. From comparing the design and materials of different types of helmets to studying the design and composition of armor in nature, the SCADpro team pulled insights from all corners.

Comparative Study

To understand the existing market for safety helmets, we conducted a comparative study. This allowed us to understand the key features between the helmets being studied which aided in our understanding of creating user-centered features to eliminate pain points.

Biomimicry Studies

Biomimicry is the design and production of materials and structures that are modeled on biological entities.

Toucan Beak

The solid outer shell of a toucan beak sandwiches a closed-cell, a foam-like structure made of struts within. The solid shell layer is built of overlapping, hexagonally-shaped thin plates of keratin protein held together by an organic glue. The membrane structure of the solid shell layer increases hardness while allowing for more energy absorption and a lighter weight.


There are four structures within a woodpecker’s head and neck that absorb shock: the hard and elastic beak, the hyoid, which is a springy structure that supports the tongue, the spongy bone structure located in the skull, and the vibration suppression interaction method of the skull and cerebrozpinal fluid.
In fact, the woodpecker was previously used as the inspiration for shock absorption in airplane black boxes. It can withstand decelerations of 1200g.

Tortoise Shell

With the combination of inorganic brittle and rigid elongated crystals of hydroxyapatite, the tortoise shell is composed of a complex microstructure. Together, the structural unit on the shell has rectangular shapes and dense structural elongated crystals that form the strength and rigidity of the tortoise shell.

Mantis Shrimp

Its multi-layered structural design is made up of organic chitin fibers, which is then surrounded by crystalline calcium phosphate, a mineral also found in human bone. The strength of the framework provides a structural pattern. Several new techniques for 3D printing and modeling can be derived from the mantis shrimp’s shell.
Its the herringbone pattern of the shell structure that creates high strength. I can withstand up to a 10,000g impact, relatively the speed of a .22 caliber bullet.

Research Synthesis

After conducting in-depth secondary research studies and having the opportunity to conduct primary research in the field, the SCADpro design team were able to conclude that Clayco takes pride in creating safe and inclusive work environments for our employees. Their insights and key learnings from their research helped to create a framework that paved a path for them to develop the future of hard hats.


The students conducted two rounds of revised ideation sketches. From these sketches, they formulated a list of user needs and possible solutions to their problems.

Modeling Prototypes

Feedback from the Clayco team lead SCADpro to reiterate the design process for specific features and combine favored concepts to produce the final three designs. They then began creating their designs in a 3D space so they could truly evaluate its shape and form and how it looks in reality.

Final Renderings

The final three designs reflect factors such as weight, ventilation, comfort, personalization, and attachments, which were drawn from our research. Starting with scaled sketches, the team transitioned to CAD drawings and 3D renderings. Then, they advanced on to prototyping by modeling Ren foam and vacuum forming plastic sheets.

Three final hard hat concepts were rendered for a photo realism effect. From sketching to prototyping, the hard hat concepts came to life.

The Captain

Captain is a compact design with improved ventilation that stays close to the head while providing comfort. The Captain also sports a dual port system. To evolve the industry further, there needed to be a way to attach multiple accessories on a single port. This system can fit two different interchangeable accessories that can pivot independently of each other. It is an intuitive system that can be removed from the hard hat when you don’t need it. The extended brim in both the front and back offer protection from the elements throughout the day.


The Pollux is a full brim design which includes enhanced, closable ventilation with intakes in the front of the helmet and outlets in the back. The hard hat is equipped with a rechargeable front light on the brim and an informational sticker on the back. The design is also capable of being equipped with a magnetic detachable chin strap.

The Jupiter

Jupiter is a highly versatile design capable of accomodating a variety of attachments to adapt itself to any situation while promoting comfort with added closable vents. The hard hat has four individual attachment ports compatible with visors, face shields, retractable ear protection, headphones, communication systems, chin straps, etc.


The journey of designing the new-age hard hat has been exhaustingly informative and invigorating. The research methodologies adopted allowed us to explore the field of hard hats in depth and later confluence to form the framework to create effective and maintainable designs.

Moving forward, Clayco is taking steps to manufacture these designs and test them in the field.