This 3D printed football helmet liner promises better protection

The liners will be custom-fit for a player's head to provide more cushion and support.

Football equipment company Riddell and 3D printing and manufacturing firm Carbon announced today that they are teaming up to improve head protection for football players. The pair will produce custom-fitted, 3D printed helmet liners that will aim to absorb contact and provide more protection for football players at all levels.

The customize liners will be made of an elastomeric lattice structure made from a custom resin material. Essentially, the liners are designed to resume its original form after experiencing an impact that changes its shape. They will be customizable and designed to perfectly fit an athlete's head, providing more personalized protection inside their helmet. For the time being, the liner will only be available for the Riddell SpeedFlex Precision Diamond helmet. According to Riddell, that model of the helmet was used by a select few NFL players during the 2018 season. The helmet will be commercially available starting this year

Once the liners are more widely available to purchase, Carbon will use its new L1 printer to mass-produce the product. The industrial 3D printing machine offers 10 times the build area of the company's previous printer, meaning it should be able to keep up with the demands for new helmet liners.

Riddell SpeedFlex Precision Diamond helmet

While there is no mention made of it in relation to the information surrounding the liners, the target of basically any football helmet safety initiative is to reduce concussions. While more is known about the head injuries and the NFL has taken steps to try to mitigate the risk associated with them (as well as suppress information about them), concussions still loom large over the league. How much of an impact new helmets and other equipment will have on cutting down on concussions and other head injuries that occur as a result of violent collisions and hits that are baked into the sport still remains to be seen.