American football isn’t the only sport benefiting from 3D printed helmets; ice hockey has joined the party, too. Bauer and EOS, leaders in ice hockey and additive manufacturing respectively, recently announced their collaboration to bring 3D printing into Bauer’s MyBauer custom equipment program and showcased the third generation of Bauer’s REAKT hockey helmet with an EOS printed liner. This partnership could help push mass customization to market faster, and help protect players from the Lake Nokomis Pond Hockey Championship all the way to the National Hockey League.
Bauer had been searching for the right company to help incorporate additive manufacturing into its production lines and give the company a leg up on the competition. With EOS’s experience in the field and its patented Digital Foam — a meta material that can elicit different foam characteristics by tuning individual voxels — a deal was quickly brokered between the businesses.
After iterating through many designs, the fruits of their labor ripened, and now the 3D printed helmet liners are prominently displayed in the third generation of Bauer’s REAKT Helmets. These Digital Foam inserts offer better breathability, improved comfort, and are lighter compared to previous generations, coming in around 580 grams. The helmets will also lose their typical “Small”, “Medium”, and “Large” sizing and will instead be customized to the individual player’s noggin.
On the consumer side, the process to get one is pretty simple. All a player has to do is spend a few minutes having their head scanned, and then wait until their helmet is shipped to their door. On the manufacturing side, however, there’s a bit more involvement. After the head is scanned, a computer aided design (CAD) model is made based on the information gathered, which is then sent off to print. The helmet inserts are made via selective laser sintering (SLS) and individual lattice structures are customized to provide the best protection for the athlete. Once done, the inserts can be dyed to match a team’s colors and final assembly is done at Bauer’s facilities in Quebec.
“The innovation at Bauer is amazing, and the sports equipment industry is really starting to think about how to leverage 3D printing, and the role Digital Foam can play in all manner of protective gear, and products designed for comfort. We are proud of the role Digital Foam has played in the production of Bauer’s premium helmet offering. Conventional manufacturing is not going to be supplanted by 3D printing, but rather augmented by it and this project is a stellar example,” said Jon Walker, Digital Foam expert at EOS North America
As this partnership grows, so will the information the companies gather. Like Riddell’s efforts on American football helmets, EOS and Bauer will continue to iterate on their lattice structures and materials to provide the best protection in hockey. We are excited to see how both companies continue to incorporate additive manufacturing into their work flows, and maybe soon they will expand from just helmets, and also incorporate EOS’s digital foam into their skates and other athletic equipment too.
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