Ice hockey helmets have been evolving for more than 50 years, and new 3D printing technologies are changing product development and the consumer experience in ways never before possible. Bauer Hockey, the global leader in hockey equipment innovation, and industrial 3D printing industry pioneer and market leader, EOS, have collaborated to incorporate additive manufacturing (AM, or 3D printing) into Bauer’s MyBauer custom equipment program.
“Whether elite athletes or pond hockey players, no two heads are alike,” said Mathieu Dejardins, senior brand manager of protective equipment at Bauer Hockey. “Bauer has now jumped in headlong into ‘mass customization’. Through our work with EOS and other partners, we are evolving MyBauer custom hockey equipment program to now include helmet inserts specific to the individual, but able to be produced at-scale. While Digital Foam is still relatively new, it keeps us out-front of product innovation while also bypassing other engineering and manufacturing limitations.”
3D Printing Digital Foam Helmet Inserts
Bauer had investigated how to leverage and incorporate AM into their business by benchmarking all industrial 3D printing OEMs and determined that EOS and its patented Digital Foam approach to printing polymers gave them a distinct advantage. With MyBauer, personalized (individualized) products now reach the mass market for ice hockey, and with the third generation of the REAKT helmet, gone are the days of simply small, medium, or large offerings. A player’s head can be scanned, a digital file is created, then using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), a helmet insert – created to fit perfectly to its wearer – is 3D printed in Digital Foam which involves a complex, varying lattice that is both personalized for the wearer for improved comfort, but also lighter weight – at 580 grams, and greater breathability. Once printed the helmet inserts are colored, finished and redied for final assembly. The production of the REAKT helmet is vertically integrated and is produced in Canada at Bauer’s Quebec facility.
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.
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