Rawlings, Carbon and Fast Radius Use 3D Printing to Revolutionize Baseball Glove Design


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Since the 2021 Major League Baseball season began, New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor has been seen sporting Rawlings next-generation glove in stylish, eye-catching neon green and black design. Meticulously engineered in secret for years, the 2022 REV1X glove is part of the newly launched REV1X series of four baseball glove models constructed by combining the legendary brand’s Heart of the Hide steer-hide leather palm and gusset with Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) rapid 3D printing technology. The result is what Rawlings describes as an ultra-lightweight, form-fitting, game-ready glove with 3D printed lattice structures in the glove’s thumb and pinky. The tuned-up parts make it ideal for the next generation of athletes looking to improve their defensive skills, speed up reaction times, and improve gameplay.

Rawlings’ engineers partnered with the California 3D printing company to create the REV1X’s sleek 3D profile, marked by thinner yet sturdier padding that won’t deteriorate over time. In addition, the partners worked to replace traditional foam or wool parts in the glove’s thumb and pinky with Carbon’s 3D optimized lattice structure, which are lighter and thinner thanks to Carbon’s FPU 50 material, without sacrificing protection and durability or playability. Rawlings Product Engineer Robert Newman described that a unique aspect of these specific lattice pads is that they still need to be malleable and formable, without any harsh rigidity, but they also need to withstand a “hundred mile an hour impact.”

The REV1X lattices are tuned with variable stiffness that conforms to the player’s hand, improving ball control so that, unlike traditional gloves, the REV1X is “ready for gameplay immediately.” Once Rawlings engineers perfected the glove’s design, they turned to Fast Radius to scale production while preserving their exacting performance standards. As a premier member of the Carbon Production Network, Fast Radius has the largest fleet of public-facing Carbon DLS printers in North America and vast experience with the DLS platform.

Fast Radius has a fleet of Carbon printers. Image courtesy of Fast Radius.

The innovative Chicago company used its Cloud Manufacturing Platform to power Rawlings’ entire project from initial design validation through quality, production, and fulfillment, and its Carbon printers to launch and maintain ongoing production – with the option to scale up or down to match demand. In addition, fast Radius worked closely with Rawlings throughout the product launch process to ensure the glove inserts met their high standards for quality. The two teams also worked together to meet Rawlings’ price and timing requirements.

Fast Radius production process for the REV1X optimized lattice structure. Image courtesy of Fast Radius.

For Rawlings Senior Director of Ball Gloves, Ryan Farrar, the new series showcases the same professional quality break-in and performance expected from any other Rawlings glove. Farrar compared the innovative design and technology of the REV1X with other famous gloves like the Bill Doak glove developed in the early 1920s, the first to include a pocket and web, or the Trap-Eze web glove from the late 1950s. Following a long-standing tradition to work alongside pros, the sports expert said the brand has ensured its gloves are “worthy of the highest level of performance.” He also revealed that the feedback received from Francisco Lindor “validates our belief that the REV1X will forever revolutionize defense.”

Working closely with several of the game’s top athletes helped develop a more “scientific build and design process” that led to several key breakthroughs. Carbon also agrees that Lindor played an integral role in creating the REV1X, providing several season’s worth of feedback. As a result, the Rawlings Platinum and Gold Glove Award winner and four-time All-Star player is now the face of the glove’s marketing campaign in the U.S. Nicknamed “Mr. Smiles,” the Puerto Rican player got traded to the Mets last winter and signed a $341 million 10-year contract in April just before Opening Day. Although he got off to a rough start, the season is now looking much better for Lindor.

New York Mets player Francisco Lindor is the face of Rawlings new REV1X glove series. Image courtesy of Rawlings.

Priced at $399.95, the REV1X glove series is already sold out at Rawlings online shop. Unlike traditional gloves’ wool padding, which breaks down or gets floppy over time, these 3D printed pieces are expected to provide variable stiffness that lasts. Carbon’s advanced fabrication technology also drastically reduces the weight, which is critical for the baseball glove, as it is one of the most important pieces of equipment in the game.

Even the shell has been engineered as a multi-layer molded 3D back design that won’t break down over time. Carbon Co-founder and Chief Product and Business Development Officer Philip DeSimone believes these benefits add a new dimension of control in the design. He also explained that during the iteration process, Rawlings assembled and tested the latticed finger pads right away, accelerating the product development cycle by about 10 months.

Engineers testing the 3D printed lattices on the baseball glove. Image courtesy of Fast Radius.

Since being founded in 2013, Carbon has collaborated with many brands in the sporting goods industry, including Adidas for creating midsoles, Riddell for 3D printed football helmets, and CCM for hockey helmet liners. From rapid prototyping to production-at-scale, this 3D printing unicorn has helped countless businesses develop better products in less time. Through the latest ultra-lightweight, form-fitting game-ready glove, Rawlings and Carbon claim to offer athletes unmatched playability across the field. All four REV1X models are available in infield and outfield patterns ranging from 11.75-inch to 12.75-inch and sold exclusively on Rawlings.com, DicksSportingGoods.com, and JustBallGloves.com.

All four models in Rawlings REV1X glove series. Image courtesy of Rawlings.

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