3D Printing in Sports

3D Printing in Sports

Over the past 10 years or so, we have seen quite a jump in the use of 3D printing in sports. It seems just about every type of sport you can think of has incorporated the use of 3D printed components into their equipment. It has been incredible to see how designers are using this technology to create safer and more comfortable products for athletes all over the world.

In this blog, we will look at a few of the most popular sports out there and how they are incorporating 3D printing into their designs.

3D Printing in Golf

Leading golf product company COBRA has been working with HP to create 3D printed golf clubs from 316L Stainless steel. 3D printing has allowed designs for golf clubs to emerge that are not possible with traditional casting and forging.

Internal 3D printed latices create lighter weight clubs and allow the designers to prototype much faster to perfect the clubs design.

Another interesting development in the golf world has been customized golf shoes that offer more comfort and greater cushioning for walking, greater traction and better grip on the green.

Adidas has incorporated 3D printed soles for a line of golf shoes that play on the vintage look, combined with the future of 3D printing.

We also had the opportunity to learn about how Chris Jackson, owner of Terrafilum, our filament production partner, used 3D printing to create a custom grip for his golf club. Chris has a limb difference that required the standard club grip to be adjusted to meet his needs, and 3D printing allowed him to develop what he needed! Check out the first few minutes of the video below to learn more.

3D Printing in Basketball

Wilson Sporting Goods has created a 3D printed "Airless Basketball." This design relies on a 3D-printed lattice structure instead of being inflated with air. It has much the same bounce, flight, and feel of a non 3D printed basketball and features eight panels as well as a seam but instead of solid surfaces to hold in air, its hexagonal holes across the surface allow air to pass through freely.

Wilson’s 3D-printed airless basketball now eliminates the need to keep the ball inflated by using a 3D-printed lattice design and research-grade materials materials like Kimya TPC and PEBA to replicate the bounce of a traditional basketball.

The original airless basketball design from Wilson, which was being sold for $2500, can be seen here. Recently, several people have released designs inspired by Wilson's airless basketball that can be freely downloaded and 3D printed. One design by BU4D can be found here. Another design from PartyLime can be found here.

3D Printing in Football

It is well known that football (known as American Football outside of the USA) has had a major problem with brain injuries in their players from contstant hits to the head during play. This can potentially lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can cause serious issues for American football players, including dementia and even premature death.

Thanks to 3D printing, football helmets can now be customized to each individual players heads, be lighter weight, and offer more protetection from impacts with better materials to replace the outdated foam inserts of yesteryear.

Currently, there are a few NFL players testing 3D printed helmets out with the hope that someday, these will replace the current helmets and make them available to high school and college athletes as well.

3D Printing for Bicycling

Bicycling has never been cooler. 3D printing is re-shaping the way bicycles are produced and customized to each individual riders. The ability to comfortably ride and get amazing aerodynamics and speed as well as lighter weight bicycles has never been more easily obtainable.

From customized 3D printed helmets, seats designed specifically for each individual's body type and shape, hand grips, levers, and frames - 3D printing is changing the way professional and non professional bicycling sports are moving through the world.

3D Printing in Soccer

Soccer (known as Football outside of the USA) has seen a lot of innovation in the 3D printing world for this sport. From 3D printed shin guards to 3D printed soccer shoes that offer lighter and more comfortable customized materials for the athletes, 3D printing is taking soccer to a whole new level.

There are even protective face gear options for players who may have had injuries or simply want to protect themselves in a contact sport where their faces are fully exposed during play.

This fully customized mask piece begins with 3D scanning the athlete’s face. Once the scan is complete, they fine tune it using 3D software, and then finally, it is 3D printed for the end user.

3D Printing in Tennis

Earlier this year, All Design Lab partnered up with Protolabs to create an intricate and beautiful tennis racket, not only because of it's interesting design, but because of the story behind it.

The designers of this 3D printed tennis racket were inspired by the Lenape Tribe. who were the original inhabitants of Flushing Meadows between the 16th and 17th centuries, on what is now the site of the US Open.

All Design Lab named this 3D printed racket “The Hìtëkw,” in honor of the Lenape people’s word for “tree.” The organic, intertwining branching structures, on this 3D printed racket are a beautiful homage to those who first walked this land.

3D Printing for Snow Sports

Snow sports athletes have seen a huge improvement to their equipment needs with 3D printing over the past few years. Whether you need custom fit goggles, snow boots or snowboards or you are a bobsled team who is 3D printing customized handles, seats and spikes for your sled, the world of winter sports is taking off with 3D printing.

The introduction to temperature resistant, more flexible and stronger materials such as carbon fiber have really opened a lot of doors for the winter sports enthusiasts.

From custom grip ski poles, speciality ice skates, bindings, and more, we expect to see a lot of 3D printed components taking shape for the next winter Olympics.

3D Printing in Motorsports

Another sport that has been greatly impacted by 3D printing is the world of Motorsports. The most significant use of 3D printing in motorsports are for parts redesign and making parts more lightweight. The ability to use more advanced materials has helped in the development of some pretty incredible parts being designed for motorcycles, race cars and ATV's.

3D printing also allows for producing spare parts on the fly, rapid prototyoping and greatly improving aerodymanics for faster speeds.

Have Questions?

Are you interested in 3D printing for sports and not sure where to start? Do you have questions about materials being used in 3D printing for sports equipment? Feel free to email us at info@shop3duniverse.org and we are happy to help you find what you need for your projects and prototypes!

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