Sports Equipment and 3D Printing: Better Performance

Raising the Level of Performance

Imagine what happens when a global IT company partners with a world-class sports brand? Information technology giant, HP is working with Oakley, a California-based sports brand to create 3D printed prototypes and functional parts across Oakley’s portfolio of products.

Oakley Brand

Oakley is a designer, developer and manufacturer of sports performance equipment and lifestyle pieces notably sunglasses. They also produce sports visors, ski/snowboard goggles, watches, apparel, shoes, backpacks, optical frames, and other accessories. They claimed that world-class athletes around the globe depend on Oakley products to compete at the highest level. They are now partnering with HP, with its breakthrough 3D printing technology, to accelerate their design to production timeline, and reconceptualize the way their products are made, pushing the boundaries of sports performance to new heights. Using Multi Jet Fusion, Oakley is reducing the product development stages of its eyewear selection as well as other athletic equipment.

Oakley began integrating 3D printing into its design process in 1992 to create the Eye Jacket sunglasses. Since then additive manufacturing has transformed its development process as well as the silhouette of its sunglasses. As of 2018, the company has been utilizing HP’s Multi Jet Fusion for rapid prototyping across multiple product lines, including sunglasses, helmets, and trophies. It speeds up the design iteration process as designers can fabricate and test color-coordinated parts in a day when it usually takes two to three weeks. Their printer is also capable of producing full-color functional parts while maintaining optimal mechanical properties.

Other Brands and 3D Printing

Other sports equipment companies are incorporating 3D printing to improve athletic performance. There’s Carbon, the Silicon Valley-based start-up behind Digital Light Synthesis partnership with American football equipment provider Riddell to develop customized 3D printed NFL helmet lining. It’s also collaborating with Fizik, a US-based cycling equipment manufacturer, to create a 3D printed bike saddle. GuardLab, a New York-based sports technology brand, also partnered with Bauer Hockey, to launch personalized 3D printed mouthguards.


Accelerating Athletics in Seattle

If you’re into sports and you’ve got something you think will improve your performance in your field, all you have to do is turn to 3D Composites.


Industries 3D Printing is Changing in 2020 and Beyond

3D Printing in 2020

In the year 2016, International Data Corporation reported that the automotive, aerospace, and dental industries were the sectors that have generated the bulk of 3D printing revenues. In the coming years, these five main industries are poised to experience big changes because of 3D printing.


3D printers stimulate students’ creativity and prepare them to effectively integrate into the professional world. Now, you find desktop 3D printers in schools as a new tool to inspire and engage both educators and students. Courses such as physics, chemistry, and engineering use 3D printers to develop real-world skills. Geography students can study via 3D-printed topography maps or demographic charts. Biology students could print out cross-sections of different body parts and organs. Engineering and graphic design students benefit from 3D models.


3D printers are helping orthopedists to make biocompatible and custom-made implants for their patients. Other than implants and prosthetics, 3D printers could also be used for the rapid prototyping of medical devices. Even though printing entire organs with living tissue and vasculature is still not feasible yet, the 3D printing medical revolution is already in motion, bringing countless benefits to physicians and patients globally. The healthcare sector is ripe with devolvement opportunities.


In architecture or interior design, 3D printers can communicate ideas to customers and incorporate feedback more effectively by creating detailed and enduring 3D models of their designs in-house, directly using computer-aided design (CAD) files they have designed themselves. Projects are materialized as fast and as precise as possible.


3D printing has given professional fashion creators free rein to their creativity. From clothing and footwear to accessory items like jewelry, gloves, and handbags, 3D printing could redefine high fashion by bringing in a whole new level of customization. Users could also unleash their own creativity and breathe life into their designs at reduced cost.



3D Printing Technology in the Cosmetics Industry

Personalized Beauty Products at Your Fingertips

Most cosmetic products come in plastic containers made with mold releases. 3D printing has made it easier to design complex shapes without the need for a mold. Many manufacturers, though, are combining 3D printing and injection molding. Experts agree that 3D printing can have a major impact on the cosmetic industry.

Customized 3D Makeup

The first portable 3D makeup printer, named Mink, was introduced in 2014. It used a combination of makeup and ink. Instead of a plastic case, consumers can select makeup printed on a thin sheet of paper. Using the Mink app, consumers choose a photo, then print either the whole image or a specific color. In 15 seconds, an entire palette of printed makeup becomes available. There’s eye shadow, blush, brow powder, etc, up to 16.7 million hues. Soon lipstick, lip gloss and nail polish will be available.

3D Printed Mascara Brush

Chanel used 3D printing in their mascara brush. They had printed micro cavities directly into the brush’s bristles, allowing smooth and even application without clumping. The new bristle design also avoids the need to redip the brush. The product is being sold worldwide. The new mascara, called Le Volume Revolution, will undoubtedly have an impact on the market.

Advanced Skincare Routine

Neutrogena, one of the forefronts in skin health, unveiled their new 3D printed product, MaskiD a face mask, just recently this year. Each mask fits the wearer’s face, with ingredients suited to meet specific skin concerns, such as acne or dryness. This works with a smartphone and the MaskiD app. Attach the Skin360 device, which scans the size of your pores and skin moisture levels, then offers recommendations. If you don’t have the Skin360, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire and take a selfie. Afterward, a mask is 3D printed to fit your unique needs.

Many brands are now into 3D printing to create innovative designs and offer extreme customization.


3D Printing Ideas

Many projects we work on at 3D Composites are personal and individual ideas that start as imaginations. Our customers just bring them over – and we turn them into reality.


Setting A Guinness World Record: When Size Matters

First Ever: Printed Product as Huge as its Printer

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center is a world-leading, interdisciplinary center for research, education, and economic development encompassing material sciences, manufacturing, and the engineering of composites and structures. It’s a sprawling 100,000 ft2 ISO 17025- accredited testing laboratory with more than 220 personnel. Just recently, the center set three world records for the Guinness Book of Records in one fell swoop.

The records are for the world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer, the largest solid 3D-printed object, and the largest 3D-printed boat.

The new 3D printer is designed to print objects as long as 100 feet by 22 feet wide by 10 feet high, and can print at 500 pounds per hour. It’s a one-of-a-kind printer that will support some ambitious initiatives, including development of biobased feedstocks using cellulose derived from wood resources, and rapid prototyping of civilian, defense and infrastructure applications. The big 3D printer was precisely to make use of Maine’s most bountiful resource – wood – being the most forested state in the US. The printer has both additive and precise subtractive manufacturing capabilities, to enable rapid prototyping for both defense and civilian applications.

With the world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer, UMaine team built the world’s largest 3D- printed boat, which also happened to be the world’s largest solid 3D-printed object – all in 72 hours. It was unveiled in the presence of Guinness World Records officials. The boat is a 25-foot-long, 5,000- pound ship, called 3Dirigo, featuring a multidirectional wave basin and a high-performance wind machine.

The university plans to use the massive printer for other endeavors especially benefiting the state of Maine as well as beyond. It works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for groundbreaking innovations in rapidly deployable, low-logistics infrastructure systems such as a 76-foot-long composites bridge girder, printing with 50% wood products at 500 pounds per hour, achieving properties similar to aluminum, strengthen research and economic development efforts that support Maine industries, foster business formation and expansion, and mentor students working across disciplines.

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The Challenge of Making 3D Printed Body Organs

Liquid-in-Liquid Printing: Meeting the Challenge

While it is true that 3D printing is able to produce tissues and organs for purposes as lab models for study, as drug screens for pharmaceutical products, and as transplant models for thousands of sufferers to prolong and maintain life, there is a single obstacle to a full realization of this good.

Organs like the heart, liver or lung are vascularized, a network of blood supply permeates their inner core and sustains the organ. Hence, in spite of 3D printing advances in organ manufacturing, replicating complicated body parts such as gastric tracts, windpipes, and blood vessels is a major challenge. Vascularized tissues are hard to build up in traditional solid layer-by-layer 3D printing without constructing supporting scaffolding that can later prove impossible to remove.

Researchers and scientists are investigating the problem by looking at liquid support structures. Though that has been experimented before, liquid structures tend to collapse as their surfaces shrink and their matrixes crumple. This time, they intend to replace support structures with liquid, a specially designed fluid matrix into which liquid designs could be injected before the ink is set and the matrix is drained away.

So, the researchers turned to hydrophilic or liquid polymers that create a stable membrane where they meet. They use different polymer combinations: a polyethylene oxide matrix and an ink made of a long carbohydrate molecule called dextran. With an injection nozzle, they pumped their ink into the matrix that can move through the liquid and even suck up and rewrite lines that have already been drawn.

The result was that the liquid structures hold their shape for as long as 10 days before they begin to merge. With the new method, they printed an assortment of complex shapes, like whirls, single and double helices, branched treelike shapes, among others. As soon as the printing is done, the shapes are set by adding polyvinyl alcohol to the inky portion of the structure. The results of their work appeared in Advanced Materials. This means that complex 3D-printed tissues made by including living cells in the ink could soon become a working reality.