How 3D Printing is Affecting the World of Sport

Think that 3D printing is for nerds? Tell that to the growing number of sports freaks diving into the 3D world.

Printing’s versatility is the reason it’s infiltrating the sporting scene. From the creation of equipment like hockey pucks, racing helmets and football cleats – to surfboards and yachts, who knows what will come next.

In the future, we might walk into 3D printed stadiums, sit in 3D printed stands and watch sporting superstars score in 3D printed goal posts.

While all that may be possible, we’ll just sit back and admire the great sporting achievements additive manufacturing has already achieved – and trust me – you won’t be disappointed.

Kira by Sebastian Campos Moller
Moller’s Award-Winning Sail-Yacht

(Image from SebastianCampos.com)

Helping sailors reduce their carbon footprint, this impressive 3D printed sail boat is powered by solar cells located in the sail. Certified by a Swedish naval architect, this sailboat’s intelligent design allows it to be controlled by a single person via the main computer.

Created by designer Sebastian Campos Moller, it clinched the bronze prize at the ‘2014 International Design Excellence Awards’. Known as the ‘Kira Sail-Yacht’, Moller’s hybrid targets seasoned sailors and less-established seafarers.

Shoe giants Nike have also boarded the 3D printing train, using it to custom build a pair of football shoes, a manufacturing process which may become a staple for them in the future.

Fast-footed footballers will be happy to hear that these super-stylish boots are reported to improve sprint speed. The ‘Nike Vaper Laser Talon‘ pictured below weighs in at just 5.6 pounds, granting wearers maximum traction, an important asset in a game which involves turning at high speed.

3D Printed Football Cleats

(Image from NikeINC.)

These streamlined boots were created thanks to Selective Sintering Technology, or SLS. As usual, the process begins with a 3D model, and involves infusing powder-based materials together using lasers.

The method is ideal for resistant materials, and Nike claims it is sports’ first 3D printed plate, and also the first-ever 3D printed football shoe.

The list of ‘firsts’ for this line of manufacturing continues to expand at an alarming rate. Millions worldwide unwittingly witnessed the power of 3D printing at this year’s world cup, as 29-year old Juliano Pinto kicked the tournament’s first ball.

But what’s so special about that?

The Exoskeleton In Action

(Image from 3DPrint.com)

Amazingly, Pinto is paralyzed from the waste down. He used a revolutionary, thought-controlled exoskeleton to move his legs and strike the ball. As the neurons dedicated to movement in his brain lit up, his legs swung towards the ball.

The helmet that was attached to Pinto’s skull was 3D printed, making it a key part of the entire design.

This one-minute video shows the Brazilian proudly completing his task, a reward for the millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours that went into it’s construction. People with disabilities around the world looked on in awe as Pinto took one small step for himself, and one giant leap for millions of people with disabilities.

We didn’t even touch on the 3D printed fishing reels, sports masks or the extraordinary bow that has received top reviews. From now on, sports and 3D printing will share a special relationship.

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