The L1 is said to offer a build area roughly five times that of its second product, the M2 (189 x 118 x 326 mm). It is available to customers on a limited basis: Carbon will assess the product needs of interested parties, and recommend its M1, M2, or L1 platforms accordingly.
Two customers whose production needs have required the L1 have been Adidas and Riddell. The former leveraged the new hardware unit to help produce 100,000 pairs of the Futurecraft 4D midsoles in 2018, and plans to scale the production of the Futurecraft 4D shoes to millions in the coming years. Meanwhile, the latter has used the L1 to produce customised helmet liners within its SpeedFlex Precision Diamond helmet model, used by select NFL players in the 2018 season. The customised helmets will be commercially available on a limited basis at the ‘elite level’ starting in 2019.
Carbon believes the L1 is an important addition to the ‘Carbon Platform’. It combines software, hardware, and materials to help facilitate an economical production workflow. Through the printing process on the L1 platform, Carbon’s software tools automatically assemble design files into printing projects and embed unique part identification codes for quality control. Once the parts have been printed, excess resin is cleaned from the parts, before they are thermally cured in ovens to set the final mechanical properties. Parts then go through quality assurance testing, where their entire production history is logged. Parts that pass quality assurance testing are then given the green light for shipping.
Riddell’s early adoption
In Riddell’s application of the L1 platform in recent months, the company benefitted from a highly damping elastomer, custom-designed for the football equipment manufacturer’s SpeedFlex Precision Diamond helmet model. NFL players underwent Riddell’s Precision-Fit head scanning and helmet fitting process, whereby scans would first be conducted with the helmet on, to learn how the player likes to wear it, and then with the helmet off, to create a unique pad set for the inside of the helmet, matching it to the player’s head surface. The data was then inputted into Carbon’s software, where its ‘Lattice Engine’ automatically designs and simulates more than 1,000 design options, selecting the optimal helmet liner for each athlete.
Each helmet is made up of 140,000 individual struts, which have been set into patterns to maintain comfort and fit, while also guarding against impact forces, thus working to reduce the likelihood of concussion and traumatic brain injuries. Riddell has accumulated information from over 5 million impacts through its smart helmet technology, and housing this on its proprietary database, leverages the data to customise and tune lattice structures in the design phase to enhance player protection. The custom liners are then able to more sufficiently manage both linear and rotational impact energies.
As Riddell works to scale up the production of its customised protective wear in the 2019 season, it has maintained its confidence in emerging technologies and linked up with Carbon, who has used the application study to announce the launch of its newest hardware platform.
“At Carbon, we believe in using the power of technology to advance innovation,” commented Joseph DeSimone, Carbon CEO and co-founder. “Our platform enables companies like Riddell to make products that were never thought possible. With this partnership, Riddell becomes one of the largest users of 3D printers in the world. We are proud to be at the forefront of digital manufacturing of protective equipment.”
“Riddell is known for head protection leadership. Our partnership with Carbon reinforces our commitment to advancing on-field protection for football players,” offered That Ide, Riddell Senior Vice President of Research and Product Development. “As the first to use digital manufacturing in football helmets, Riddell continues our industry leadership by embracing promising new technologies and advancing our innovation roadmap today and into the future.”
“As someone who’s spent thousands of hours watching film, I know that no two players play the same,” added Peyton Manning, Riddell Strategic Advisor and Brand Ambassador, and two-time Superbowl winner. “They all have different styles and tendencies on the field, which is another key benefit to Riddell’s Diamond technology. With the SpeedFlex Precision Diamond, players are not only experiencing the latest in head protection, they can also dictate where the helmet is positioned to improve sightlines and maximise field vision.”