Advancements in 3D printing technology have led to new innovative ways design and manufacturing
engineers have brought products to life. In recent years, athletic and sports industries have quickly become one of the largest adapters of 3D printing. Utilizing the speed of part production and flexible material options, the sports industry has made great strides in improving the athlete experience.
All major sporting goods brands have adopted 3D printing to optimize their product lines. Major benefits companies are gaining from 3D printing can be found in prototyping and functional testing. Polyjet technology lets users modify different material colors and deromiters, allowing a range of colors and having rubber-like over molding. Athletic apparel companies, such as Nike and Adidas, are able to print prototype shoes for design focus groups allowing feedback before mass production. Due to production speed, these companies can get their sample products reviewed within days or sometimes hours, keeping product time tables on track.
Polyjet 3D printing technology has also been used for functional testing at Trek, the world leader of bicycle manufacturing. Engineers at Trek use their CAD software to design brackets and gear parts which can be functionally tested the same day. This technology reaps the benefit to quickly validate designs and make necessary adjustments to optimize the part for performance.
3D printing even made its way to the Super Bowl when Carolina Panther’s linebacker, Thomas Davis, broke his arm before the big game. After Davis’ surgery, where a metal plate was to be placed in his arm, 3-D Elite and Whiteclouds designed a 3D printed custom sleeve to support his arm and help get Davis back onto the field. With the speed of 3D printing and its ability to utilize scanning technologies, a one of a kind brace was created.