Additive Manufacturing Strategies

The World’s First 3D Printed Game of Baseball – Bats, Balls, Bases, Helmets and All

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It was back in the 1860’s, when the first semi-pro baseball teams began to form. That’s over 150 years in which the sport has evolved very little. The players may be bigger, stronger, and faster, but the game itself, and even tee-3most of the equipment has only changed minutely. Baseball gloves are thicker, protecting the hand to a greater degree, and the catching equipment has improved the catcher’s protection behind home plate substantially over the years. With this said, the bats, the balls, and even the uniforms are very similar if you were to compare a game on a summer’s night in 1864, with one you’d watch today at Wrigley Field, or Fenway Park.

Will the Sport of baseball forever remain static, or will it eventually evolve? One Western Michigan minor league club, the Whitecaps, who are a Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, is at least trying something a bit futuristic. Prior to last night’s game against the Burlington Bees, tradition bumped heads with the future, as two Northwoods Little League teams, comprised of a total of 26 players, competed in the world’s first ever game of tee-ball, played using 3D printed equipment.

Everything you see here but the grass was 3D printer

Everything you see here but the grass was 3D printer

The game, which lasted a little under an hour, was played with 3D printed helmets, bats, balls, bases and even the tees. The event was courtesy of Burton Precision Co Inc. & Universe 3D, who were the ones who 3D printed all the equipment.

“We at Burton Precision are excited to showcase 3D printing for the West Michigan Whitecaps,” Jim Krug, President of Burton Precision, explained. “3D printing is definitely the wave of the future. The market is expected to reach $8.41 billion by 2020. It’s going to be an exciting time for individuals and business’s during the next decade featuring the benefits and opportunities 3D printing have in store.”

Representatives from Burton Precision were also present during and prior to the game, 3D printing figurines for fans at a nominal small fee.

Although a time when professional athletes are equipped with 3D printed equipment is likely not occurring anytime soon, this was a perfect example of how, even a sport which involves the striking of equipment together, can be played with 3D printed items.

Let us know what you think of this story. Will we ever see 3D printed equipment in professional sports? It could certainly allow for further customization. Imagine a baseball bat in which the grip is tailor-made for a particular athlete’s hands. Discuss in the 3D printed baseball game forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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