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Auto-Fit Software Will Tailor 3D Printed Helmet Liners to Hockey Players

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Last fall, Canadian hockey equipment designer, manufacturer, and marketer CCM introduced its ‘SuperTacks X with Nest Tech’ helmet, which features a 3D printed interior made with Carbon’s DLS technology and was officially certified for professional use by the National Hockey League (NHL). Now, Montreal-based software startup Shapeshift 3D, which develops scan-fit-print automation software for customizing helmets, has announced that it is teaming up with CCM in an exclusive partnership to automate the fit-customization of its 3D printed hockey helmet liners.

“We are proud to partner with a hallmark brand so deeply committed to improving the safety and performance of those who practice our national sport – [hockey],” said Jonathan Borduas, the CEO of Shapeshift 3D. “We applaud the commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible – they dared to dream and now, through our partnership, we can make it a reality.”

Inner helmet liner with lattice structure. Image courtesy of Carbon and CCM.

CCM, which equips more professional hockey players than any other company and is the official outfitter of the American Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League, and several NCAA and National teams, manufactured what it says is the first custom 3D printed hockey helmet liner in the world with its SuperTacks X. The geometrical design of helmets is focused on energy dampening in order to absorb the force of damaging impacts, and while most helmets feature a foam insert for protection, CCM’s novel helmet insert is made up of an intricate lattice structure that’s breathable, comfortable, and safe. The lattice itself is composed of more than 130,000 struts sized and placed for the best energy absorption and dissipation, while also making airflow and deformation possible.

The SuperTacks X helmet with 3D printed liner is available in the standard Small, Medium, and Large sizes, but many elite athletes got custom fitted helmets for the 2021 NHL season. To do this, the player’s head is 3D scanned, and the helmet liner’s padding is morphed in order to conform to that particular player’s skull. Then, Carbon’s AM process comes into play, which uses UV light to cure the liquid plastic in order to create the 3D printed helmet liner.

Unfortunately, this solution isn’t really plausible for the majority of the public. Because the lattice structures are so intricate, a customized SuperTacks X helmet is too expensive for most anyone but professional athletes, which makes its accessibility on the global market practically impossible. That’s why CCM wanted to partner with Shapeshift 3D—so the helmet, and its 3D printed liner, could be provided to more consumers.

“CCM is proud to partner with such an innovative company, [Shapeshift3D], for the improved processing of the design of our Super Tacks X hockey helmet liner,” stated Jeff Dalzell, Chief Product Officer for CCM. “We chose Shapeshift3D to allow us to bring the custom-fit process used at the elite level to the masses. We were looking for a partner to help with the strong demand and work on an optimized, automated process. We truly think that Shapeshift 3D will help us achieve our commercial vision to bring this revolutionary product to as many players as possible globally.”

Image courtesy of Carbon and CCM.

By taking advantage of Shapeshift 3D’s integrated, scalable software platform, CCM can automate its helmet manufacturing process in order to meet consumer demand, and offer its product to even more players. The startup’s software has been used in the past to help create custom 3D printed insoles, knee braces, prosthetic arms and legs, and even a respiratory mask, so hockey helmets should fit right in.

Shapeshift 3D’s CEO Jonathan Borduas stated, “This [partnership] is particularly exciting as it showcases the unique value-add of using our software – we allow CCM to customize at scale and low cost while respecting technologies already integrated, such as the NEST Tech.”

Image courtesy of Shapeshift 3D

The startup’s AI-powered platform is based on patent-pending technology and can be used for speedy yet simple fit-customization of human-body applications, as previously mentioned. Shapeshift 3D says its platform “enables a perfect fit” for these types of products, which helps keep safety at the forefront.

CCM and Shapeshift 3D have not yet announced a date for when these customized helmet liners will be available to the consumer market.

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