Advanced 3D-printing technology is being used to make new helmets. Well, helmet liners, anyway, but this is still ground-breaking stuff. Helmet manufacturer Riddell has teamed up with the company Carbon for a process that involves first scanning a player’s noggin, then 3D-printing seven custom, form-fitting helmet pads that perfectly fit said noggin.
The NFL is the primary recipient of this tech, but as with all things gridiron-related it will trickle down to college and eventually high school levels.
The pads are printed with a lattice pattern, which buckles under control — absorbing and distributing concussive energy as it does — then springs back to its original shape once the impact is over.
At least one player on all 32 NFL teams wore one of these helmet in practice and in games in the 2018 season.
At the moment, the lining is only available for the Riddell SpeedFlex Precision Diamond helmet.
As of yet, there are no results on the level of protection provided by this technology. Hopefully this technology and others can make strides in reducing concussions and the eventual CTE that can occur as a result.