The atmosphere of game and competition awakens the sport enthusiast in all of us. Major tournaments like the FIFA World Cup, The Olympics, and Wimbledon allow people to witness what extraordinary feats humans can achieve. Sometimes with the right push from the right kind of equipment, athletes and players can bring out the best in themselves and outperform even their own expectations.
Creating a fine piece of equipment for sports requires using advanced tech in its development, so the output assists the sportsperson in winning that dream trophy.
Why 3D Printing Works for the Sports World
3D printing or additive manufacturing allows for an intricate level of customization that fits each player and their requirements. Because a 3D printed object is made using a 3D model, altering the model on a computer-aided-design software will allow the creation of multiple variations of a product altered for the player.
In cycles, race cars and other racing vehicles, 3D printed parts can offer good balance, and proper shape leading to better aerodynamics.
3D printing also allows you to manufacture complex designs required by players with high quality materials in one go, meaning that the time and processes used to produce it are optimized.
3D printed sports equipment is formed by carefully developed computer designs and strong printable materials, making it durable as well as lighter in weight. This makes the player’s movements smooth and unrestricted. The equipment can be used by para-athletes as personalized apparatus to ensure proper assistance for whichever sports they specialize in.
Examples of 3D Printed Sports Equipment
Autodesk and prosthesis manufacturer Reha-Technik Wellmer came together to build a 3D printed prosthetic leg for Denise Schindler, a German competitive cyclist. They did so by digitally measuring the residual limb and creating an accurately fit prosthetic with the help of 3D printing technology. With this 3D printed prosthesis, the cyclist earned a silver and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.
Capita, a snowboard manufacturer has developed 3D printed sidewalls for their snowboards using FFF technology (fused filament fabrication). While manufacturing a great winter sport equipment, this technology is also helping in reducing the waste during production. Another snowboard company called Burton Snowboards is using 3D printing to test out their equipment for efficient manufacturing.
Adidas has partnered with Carbon to develop 4D FWD sneakers. The midsoles of these sneakers are made by bio-based elastomer called EPU 44. The company Carbon states that this elastomer is stiffer, more sustainable, flexible and resilient.
Grismont Paris focuses on delivering golf clubs that are personalized to fit golfer’s requirements. The company has worked with engineers and club makers to 3D print luxurious golf clubs as per certain specifications.
Chevrolet has used 3D printing for manufacturing many parts of its race cars, including oil tanks, integrated hydration systems and drivers’ cooling boxes. Corvette, INDYCAR and Silverado are some of the brand’s teams that drive these cars powered by 3D printed parts.
Sports like football are physically demanding, and chances of getting hurt are high. When an injury occurs, players feel down-hearted as they’re often advised not to play for a while till it heals. For such cases, 3D printed masks come to use. Cavendish Imaging 3D prints special masks that allow players who have suffered facial injuries to still participate in games. Despite having a broken nose or fractured cheekbone, the athlete can continue playing sports like rugby and football as it provides the exact personalized support needed for the player’s injuries.
3D printing tech has already aided a multitude of industries, and we see the growing use of 3D printed products even in the sports environment. Properties like personalization, lighter weight, and durability have made 3D printed equipment a conscious choice for players of different sports including football, snowboarding, cycling and running. Currently still in its initial stages, we could see a future where all kinds of sports manufacturing, including jerseys, goalposts or playing grounds could be 3D printed. 3D tech could then ‘win the first prize’ when it comes to innovation in sports.