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Rittichier

Jack Rittichier (L) before his deployment to Vietnam. [Image: US Coast Guard]

I know many graduates of Kent State University, as several of my friends and family members have attended over the years, but one of the school’s most famous graduates is Coast Guard hero Jack Rittichier, who was a star football player and team captain during his days at Kent. After he graduated in 1956, he went on to a long career in the Air Force and Coast Guard, where he won several medals including the Purple Heart, Silver Star and Vietnam Service Medal, among many others. He was killed in action in 1968, and his name lives on at KSU in the form of the Lt. Jack Rittichier Trophy, which has been presented to the KSU football team’s MVP every year since 2009.

As a football player, Rittichier is best known for an incredible 90-yard touchdown run in the final minutes of KSU’s homecoming game against Bowling Green State University on October 30, 1954. The touchdown won the game and sent the KSU football team to their first bowl game, the 1954 Refrigerator Bowl. Decades later, a photograph of Rittichier’s touchdown run was given to Rhode Island-based artist Ann Rozhon, who used it to create a bronze sculpture entitled “Jack’s Run.”

In 2014, the sculpture was 3D scanned at the Coast Guard Academy and the file was transmitted to the Paul King Foundry, where it was 3D printed and used to cast a miniature bronze version, which became the new trophy to be given to the KSU football team’s MVP. This year, though, the MVP will be given a different kind of trophy – one that has been fully 3D printed.

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2014 KSU MVP Casey Pierce is presented with the Rittichier Award by Coast Guard Commander Marshall Branch. [Image: Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher M. Yaw, US Coast Guard]

It won’t be the first 3D printed trophy to be awarded to an athlete; the first ones were introduced in 2010 by Motorsport. Earlier this year, high school students designed a 3D printed trophy for the world champion Kansas City Royals, and 3D printed trophies were awarded to last year’s Hockey World League Champions. Unlike those trophies, however, the newest Lt. Jack Rittichier Trophy will be directly printed in bronze using the Virtual Foundry’s recently introduced metal filament, Filamet.

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This bronze owl was printed in Filamet on a Printrbot Simple.

Filamet’s release caused quite a stir as it’s the closest we’ve gotten so far to an entirely metal filament for desktop 3D printing. Made from 88% metal powder and 12% plastic, the metal content of printed objects can be upped to nearly 100% by baking them in a kiln and allowing the plastic to burn away. Unlike the original Motorsport trophies, which were printed with expensive SLS technology and later painted or lacquered in gold, silver or bronze, the Rittichier Trophy will be printed with a standard FDM desktop 3D printer and polished to allow the natural bronze to shine.

Since Filamet’s release, it has been snapped up by high-profile consumers from Calvin Klein to the US Department of Energy. Now the Virtual Foundry is looking to focus on introducing the material to home users and makers, reflecting the young company’s maker origins. According to founder Bradley Woods, even the company’s production equipment was maker-built.

“It’s all controlled by a variety of Arduino’s and PICs,” said Woods. “By now we’ve replaced some of our equipment with industrial grade gear, but at one point all of our process equipment was home-built.”

In my opinion, a college football trophy is a pretty good way to showcase a material to the general public – particularly a trophy that honors a hero of both sports and war. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Trophy forum over at 3DPB.com.

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