3D printing is managing to gain one after another feat under its belt and this time the feat that has been accomplished could potentially make its way to the Super Bowl 50, the television event of the year that deals with American sports, slated for 7th February, 2016. Thomas Davis is the all-pro linebacker of Carolina Panthers and he could soon become the first NFL player to participate in a game while wearing a piece of 3D printed equipment.
Carolina Panthers won against Arizona Cardinals in late January thus securing a spot for the 2016 Super Bowl and since that game, Davis has been forced to put up with wearing a metal plate that features 12 screws for holding his arm together. Why? That’s because he incurred damage during the game and now has a broken right forearm. We know what you’re thinking and usually yes, such an injury would keep the player on the Bench, however; Davis is determined to be in the most important game of life. He is trying his best to get back into shape and into the field despite all the obvious hurdles.
This is where 3D printing comes in. Enter, Whiteclouds – a 3D printing company – that has got Davis’ back. Once the company received a 3D scan of Davis’ arm, the company was able to design and subsequently engineer a custom made and unique 3D printed arm brace within 8 hours for imparting protection to his injury during the game. This isn’t any regular sport where you can play while protecting your injury folks, this is American Football – a full contact support – where maneuvers that are body-slamming and bone-crushing are considered to be a plus point. A conventional plastic case won’t be able to survive the onslaught of opponents that weigh in over 300 pounds.
In order to make sure that he remains protected, the 3D printed arm brace has been 3D printed using a composite blend of rubber-similar and rigid plastic materials that allow the brace to remain flexible while being able to impart protection against any significant shock. The 3D printed brace has also been lined using Poron XRD, a lightweight and soft material – sponge-like – that while remains flexible to touch is extremely hard when it comes to impact. The engineering team that has developed the 3D printed brace also added holes to allow for breath-ability while helping in minimizing the weight to the lowest point possible.
Tomorrow, on the game day, the 3D printed brace is set to be covered in foam to allow for enhanced padding and shall be taped to the player by making use of the white, silver, black and blue signature colors of the Panthers’ uniforms.
Whiteclouds didn’t just only design the 3D printed brace in an amazingly quick response but also executed the 3D printing and delivery processes. The 3D print was completed in 30 hours using a Stratasys Connex 3D printer and then shipped out overnight on Friday thus allowing Davis to practice for the extra hours during this week. This extra time was meant for Davis to test the brace out and prove that he is all set for the final day.
David was out in the field on 1st February, Monday and was actually taking ‘every opportunity to hit on something’ while the ‘light’ day of practice continued. He has, personally, opted for the 3D printed brace over three conventional braces since this one is tougher. Scott Perone of 3D Elite said, “Thomas Davis is already the ‘bionic man’ in our book. This personalized 3D printed brace makes him a bit more indestructible.” 3D Elite teamed up with Whiteclouds on the designing phase of 3D printed brace.
Davis is very determined and said, “If there’s any way, any chance and any opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. I’m going to do it.” While the coach, Ron Rivera, said that he will only let him play if the doctors say he is a hundred percent.
According to an estimate over 117 million Americans shall be tuned in on Sunday, this Sunday, to watch the Carolina Panthers compete against Denver Broncos. Let’s see if Davis and the 3D printed brace are able to make the biggest break tomorrow!