Game Ready: 3D Systems Technology Allows for Revolutionary 3D Printed Zweikampf Shin Guards

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UntitledNever would it have occurred to me that sports safety could have such sophistication and complexity surrounding it up until learning about the 3D printed Zweikampf Shin Guards, where player and innovator Jakob Schmied made the calls in their creation, and evolution into revolutionary—and almost glamorous—gear. Schmied, a passionate fùtbol (soccer) player, came up with the idea for these highly functional, high-end shin guards after a bout with chronic periostitis which sent him on a search for comprehensive protection which just didn’t exist.

“I talked with some friends of mine who also play fùtbol,” said Schmied. “They felt the same. The guard we wanted still had to be invented.”

Already involved in Bernstein Innovation with his father, now a top 3D printing service bureau based in Linz, Austria, they began a new project with Zweikampf—as well as embarking on a challenging mission—to create a three-part shin guard system which eliminates issues caused by the all-too-common ill fit.

Bernstein Innovations’ specialty is in the design and production of SLS 3D-printed components for a range of clients in the industry, offering everything from examples like this niche sports equipment to medical products. We’ve been following the innovators in sports equipment since their Zweikampf Shin Guards launched on Kickstarter in hopes of raising €50,000 ($56,418 USD) by May 17th. Now, a case study has also been released regarding the protective gear and how these innovators relied on the 3D Systems DuraForm PA materials and SLS 3D printer to develop their first consumer product.

UntitledThe first serially produced and 3D printed shin guard features a unique ‘Y structure’ and honeycomb design, which as a special note was even used by the Samarai to absorb impact when being hit. The shape and profile of the guards allow for an exact fit inside the player’s socks—and not only that, they can be personalized with their name and team number. The case study reveals that this system, the first that the company has taken from conception to manufacturing with 3D printing, is offering all athletes the chance to experience a premium product that’s able to absorb shock better thanks to clever geometry and better fit due to customization.

The custom system offers three layers:

  • The 3D printed shell
  • A custom layer
  • A comfort layer

Not only are the guards ultra lightweight, but their texture, with a high friction coating, stops the age-old issue of ‘sock slippage.’ Using a 3D Systems sPro 140 SLS 3D printer, Bernstein Innovation produced the shin protection system, as well as employing it on a daily basis in their work for providing parts and prototypes to clients.

“SLS allows us to create final products that meet our demands, and is compatible with a broad range of materials that suit our, and our clients’, different needs,” said Stefan Niedermair, Chief Technology Information Officer, Bernstein Innovation.

Currently, they are able to use the technology of the 3DS printer to output 300 – 350 shin guards per build using 3D Systems DuraForm PA material. Fully automated powder handling encourages the maximum level of efficiency with continuous operation possible at their site where the guards are fabricated, dusted off to removed excess powder, and then according to the case study, ‘recycled back into the printer, and sand blasted.’ After that, the team used ‘infiltration and coating processes’ to get the desired look.

shin guardsThese parts must also be made according to regulations. They are shipped to an outside laboratory for compliance testing, and then the company runs them through rigorous in-house testing as well, which involves extreme—and very interesting—processes such as driving over them with a car, cycling them through washer machines, and forcing them to endure high temperatures. With the DuraForm PA material, Bernstein Innovation did indeed find the winning recipe for making a durable product that can withstand the tough and unpredictable world of sports.

tireIn this study, everyone involved experiences the fundamental benefits of 3D printing, most especially the savings on the bottom line when it comes to producing prototypes that can also be made faster and with superior quality. The team makes full use of all the rewards 3D printing has to offer, and especially in dispelling the myth that everything must be ‘one size fits all” and designed for the masses today.

“We set out to make a shin guard that fits the body better than any other model on the market,” said Viktoria Reidl, Product Development, Bernstein Innovation. “We scanned numerous players and developed sizes based on real world data to provide an anatomical fit.”

While the Bernstein team has begun with a more basic system as they evaluate what the market interest and demand will be, the ultimate goal for the company is a professional system which they envision as being fully customized, offering players gear that is completely specific to them via 3D scanning. Currently players will find the shin guards available in three sizes with options for soft, hard, or in between—depending on comfort requirements as well as what type of impact they expect to experience during the game.

As we often point out, the best products in this industry often arise from users who had their own specific need—such as Schmied’s painful shin condition—which motivated them to create a high-quality product that resonates with others as well. You can find out more about Bernstein Innovation here, as well as checking out their Kickstarter campaign. Below too is a video which explains more about their evolution as a company and why they decided to make such a product.06e053c60ac1303fbd2cf2459ccaea2d_original

According to 3D Systems, Duraform PA material is also suitable for:

  • Prototypes that require good durability and strength
  • Low to mid volume direct manufacturing of end-use parts
  • Medical parts that require USP Class VI compliance or must be sterilized
  • Complex, thin-walled ducts
  • Aircraft and motorsports parts
  • Enclosures and housings
  • Parts with snap-fits and living hinges
  • Automotive dashboards, grilles and bumpers

Specifications on the sPro 140 3D printer follow:ff1e7fb4a7d33a342110984d62bb65b7_original

Model: sPro 140
Manufacturer: 3D Systems
Build envelope capacity (XYZ): 22 x 22 x 18 in (550 x 550 x 460 mm), 8,500 cu in (139 I)
Powder layout: Precision Counter Rotating Roller
Layer thickness range (typical): Min 0.08 mm (0.003 in); Max 0.15 mm (0.006 in), (0.004 in, 0.1 mm)
Imaging System: ProScan™ Standard, Digital Imaging Systems
Scanning speed: 400 in/s (10 m/s)
Laser power/type: 70 W / CO2
Volume build rate: 185 cu in/hr (3.0 L/hr)
System warranty: One-year warranty, under 3D Systems purchase terms and conditions

Electrical Requirements:

System: 208 V/17 kVA, 50/60 Hz AC 50/60 Hz, 3-phase (System)

Standard Features:

System Control & Part Preparation Software: LS4.4 Sinter/BuildSetUp Software featuring part Add/Delete on-the-fly for flexibility, SinterScan Module for high accuracy and part consistency, and Build Time Estimator.

Other options:

RemoteNotify Software Module: Automatically send emails upon machine status change, including build height, part completion, alarms, etc.
RealMonitor & Graphic Viewer-Advanced Software: Logs laser, heater, and sensor data during build and allows for export to a database for statistical process control.

Discuss this technology and new product in the 3D Printed Shin Guards forum over at

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