Why NFL Players Are Wearing Custom 3D-Printed Helmets

Why NFL Players Are Wearing Custom 3D-Printed Helmets

NFL players on almost every team are
testing out a brand new type of helmet: one created with
the help of 3D printing. This is all about
what’s under the shell. It’s called the
Riddell SpeedFlex Precision Diamond. It’s all about advanced protection for
the athlete, being able to dissipate and absorb the energy on impact. Silicon Valley-based Carbon prints customized
resin pads to go inside each player’s helmet, based on
a scan of his head. These are the pads from my scan
that we printed individually and we’ll send these over to Riddell and we’ll assemble
that into a final helmet and I’ll get a chance to bang
heads with others on the team. Soon foam could be a thing of
the past, just like the soft leather helmets first used by the
sport nearly 100 years ago. If this were foam you’d have to
have different kinds of foam and you’d have to put it together like a
puzzle. It’s labor intensive and the energy doesn’t couple well from one piece
to the other. By having a combination product this allows you to
have better protection with properties that differ in different
regions. And that’s, especially coupled with the shape of
your head, is exactly what’s needed to advance protection. The player has their head scanned
with an app created by Riddell. Then Carbon designs and prints seven custom
pads with a unique lattice pattern. So when you squeeze a lattice, every
time a strut flexes and buckles, that absorbs energy. So this is a great
way when you take an impact to distribute it out and absorb all
that energy and make a much safer product. It’s firm and soft in the
different regions where that player needs it, based on the exact shape of his head. Peyton Manning has commented already
that they’re very comfortable and he’s very excited about the fit being perfect
for his head and it’s fun to see an athlete like that who really
understands, who’s tried a lot of different helmets in his career. NFL players get to choose which helmet
model they wear and Carbon says more than 50 wanted to try this one out.
At least one player on each NFL team wore a Riddell speed flex precision
Diamond helmet at practices and games in the second half of the season.
One former player, Brent Jones of the 49ers, likes the design so much that
he’s now an investor. The pads are printed in Carbon’s new large
high-speed L1 printers. Carbon says its process is 50 to 100 times
faster than traditional 3D printing and they can use materials with more
elasticity and strength. It’s also printing the soles of Adidas shoes and
parts for inside Ford Mustangs and F-150s. Historically, you’d take a year and a
half to two years to introduce a new product. We’ve gone through
literally hundreds of different designs already. The helmets come at a time
when innovation in protective gear is sorely needed. The NFL reported 214
concussions this season. Although that number is down from 281 last season, the
dangers of repeated hits to the head are just beginning to surface. A landmark
2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that
99 percent of examined NFL players had signs of post
mortem chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that
significantly affects decision making, judgment and cognition. It became
notorious when former NFL player Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in 2017
after a murder conviction. Researchers found that at just 27 years
old, Hernandez suffered the most severe case of CTE ever discovered in
someone younger than 46. Although concussions are not totally preventable. DeSimone
hopes his company’s tech will help. There’s a lot of kids that are not
going to move all the way into the pros, right? And protecting them is
as important as the elite athlete and so we’re really passionate about
getting the technology into the hands more broadly. The NFL conducts lab research to
evaluate which helmets best reduce head impact severity. Last year they gave the
top two spots to the Zero1 helmet by Seattle start-up VICIS. It bends
and crumples to absorb impact and then bounces back. This year’s NFL research
will reveal if the 3D-printed pads inside the new Riddell helmet do
indeed make it safer than other models. No word yet on the price of
the custom helmets, but Riddell says they’re meant to last for a player’s
entire career. They’ll be available for NFL and college teams to purchase later
this year. And DeSimone hopes one day it can be used
to keep all athletes safer. You can think of so many
other sports: ice hockey, lacrosse, skiing, military and police and law
enforcement. We believe that customized products more broadly will have a really
big impact. And we think that fit is a key part of having
that next level of innovation that drives protection.

100 Replies to “Why NFL Players Are Wearing Custom 3D-Printed Helmets”

  1. The only thing that will make American Football safer is removing helmets. We have a fraction of these problems in Australia and we have 3 codes of football (Aussie rules, Rugby union and league) and don't even try to tell me that there's less impact or physicality in our sports.

    Removing the helmet means players protect themselves and adjust how they play accordingly.

    It will also reduce the barrier of entry into these sports with less equipment costs.

  2. Man I remember when the revolution helmets came out..i thought those were the coolest best looking helmets growing up..wanted one in high school soo bad but couldn't afford one lol.

  3. This is a great idea, but until it spreads to all levels of football, the impact they may have might not be as great as advertised. By the time a player makes it into the pros, he has been getting hit in the head for over a decade already. So I'm looking forward to see how they will mass produce this idea if in fact is safer than the current helmets


  5. It’s about how the brain moves in the skull, they are not breaking skulls they are ruining their brains. Probably the best thing would be to remove the helmets and shoulder pads because that would reduce the speed and the amount of Impacts. But If we really care about athletes then all fight sports would ban cloves, back in the day of bare knuckle boxing nobody got knocked out simply because you can’t punch someone’s face without breaking your hand.

  6. This helmet isn't good enough for Tom Brady, who continues to wear an unsafe helmet he can't wear anymore? Come on.

  7. That's awesome. I love Carbon and what the potential of advanced manufacturing will do for America. I just hope to God these companies realize their IP is the target of governments around the world who want to steal them. I am looking at you China.

  8. @3:49 here is a f**** brilliant idea: how about we stop kids from knocking the s*** out of each other and damaging their brain at a critical period in its formation and growth?

  9. It looks it may work, just the fact that it is carbon and hexagonal customised structure is already way advanced, plus it looks like it's flexible and not just rigid.

  10. I just think that it won't stop a bullet and DARPA have more advanced 500million dollars per helmet which is way more protective and advanced.

  11. This still doesnt seem like it will stop the problem. This seems like it will only protect the skull, which is not the same as protecting the brain. The brain will still slam into the skull when large shock happens.

  12. I heard that the helmets are the safest and it’s just the neck movements that cause most concussions idk I just heard it some where

  13. We be cool seeing helmets that aren’t bulky. Would be cool seeing one strong like the modern one but slime like the older leather one they back then.

  14. Football has so much rules and safety stuff like how you supposed to get hit hard and not feel anything mine as well play flag football

  15. Has anybody thought that CTE might be connected to steroid use? Perhaps head collisions along with high levels of steroid abuse might be to blame the crazy behavior. Roid rage? Also, how come CTE seems random? Collisions are part of the game and just about every player should show signs. Even if they’re young. Hernandez did. I bet this is why only a select few have CTE as opposed to all or most. Because of steroids.

  16. Just remove pads and helmets and the problem is fixed, look at Aussie sports, there is significantly less concussions due to the fact that you have to play differently, I am a fan of the nfl and around 20% of the tackles I see the player is leaning with their helmet first, in rugby union/league and afl the tackling is much safer, most hits are to the legs,waist and stomach
    I have seen harder hits in Aussie sports but they are much more safe compared to the nfl, the hits are almost exactly similar and Aussie sports don’t even use helmets and pads

  17. Except this won't really change much. Most injuries to the Head come from fast movements like getting tackled and your head snapping back.

  18. Great product.. hopefully it's much cheaper because when I played in h.s I had 7 year old helmets.. since I went to public school in chicago they only received duct tape and mouth pieces every year… maybe 4 new helmets and shoulder pads every other year

  19. Maybe just stop head butting each other?? No other contact sport in the world deliberately use their heads to stop each other?

  20. Somebody explain why theybare talking about a retired qb… Pman aint gon get hit so why does it matter that he like it or not

  21. This was very insightful. I didn't even think of other sports or physical activities such as hockey or skiing plus other work forces like the army or police force.

  22. 1) by the time their pro nfl players already have CTE

    2) no helmet in the world can prevent brain damage considering the brain rattles on the skull about every play

  23. The problem is price. A high school team isn’t going to give kids these for free they can’t afford to fit 30 + kids with a $1000 + helmet. Safety will always be a problem for people who can’t afford the latest and greatest

  24. Okay so then, we’ll take Vicis’ hard shell and Riddell’s inner padding and merge them together and make a Super helmet and we’ll call it Project Hybrid.

  25. This technology needs to start on Pop Warner leagues everywhere. By the time players make it to the NFL they've been hit in the head hundreds and hundreds of times.

  26. I think if you play football your in entire life, you have to know that its messing up your head in some way. I played football 1 year and I got headaches every night after practice. To blame the NFL for your head injuries knowing its bad for you is like going to McDonalds every day and blaming them for your heart disease.

  27. I don't think it matters what football helmets are made out of. The bottom line is that it's just a violent sport and concussions are inevitable. They said that this technology will be available soon for all NFL and college athletes. What about high school athletes? I suffered from 2 concussions alone my senior year. Plus how many high school concussions go undiagnosed every year? In all honesty, I love the sport of football, but nobody should play it. The human body wasn't designed for that kind of beating. In my mid 30's now, and I regret ever playing. If I had a son, I would steer them towards baseball and basketball if they wanted to be a student athlete.

  28. How long do the helmets last?? I'm asking because I'm supposed to throw away and replace my bicycle helmet after any crash!

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