April 24, 2014

When Dutch international and Fulham player, John Heitinga, broken his nose in a training ground accident some weeks ago, the Fulham FC were worried Heitinga could miss all matches in the rest of the season.

Players who break their nose face up to three weeks out to recover, but Heitinga wanted to play on. Thanks to 3D printing, a customised 3D printed sports mask allow him to play by protecting the unstable part of the face.

An example scan of Wayne Rooney that would be used to make the mask

The mask was designed by scientists at the London-based 3D printing company Cavendish Imaging. They use either their own on-site optical scanner or cone beam technology, as well as data from most off site scanners or cameras to generate a 3D model of the players' face. This avoids the need for a physical impression of the face, which is a very uncomfortable process. Then they printed the 3D model out layer by layer from powdered nylon, using selective laser sintering technology.

Typically, these 3D printed masks are used to guard against further injury to lacerations to eg. the chin or lip, or fractures to the nose or cheekbone. Larger masks can be used as burn or compression masks to lighten and soften scar tissue and protect facial grafts.

Heitinga had surgery on the Tuesday, and on Friday he has already trained with the mask. Because the mask is customised, it doesn't move about while running or heading the ball.

'I managed both games wearing the protection after breaking my nose in training and having surgery,' Heitinga said to Daily Mail.

'The mask was quite comfortable. It's obviously not the same as playing without one but it really did not affect my performance.

'I played the following game in it as well, it did not bother me at all. My nose was fixed but the mask protected it from being damaged.

'You can see that in such a short space of time I was back playing, it really is remarkable.' Heitinga added.

Heitinga is pictured above with a 3D printed black mask, which protects his face while recovering from his broken nose surgery, saving him several weeks of inaction.

Up to now Cavendish Imaging has treated many professional footballers and rugby players with broken nose, eye sockets and cheekbones with the 3D printed masks so they have been able to get back to full competitive sporting activity within few days, such as Chelsea strikers Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, and Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski, Crystal Palace star Adrain Mariappa, Watford's Fitz Hall, Republic of Ireland international Leon Best and England Women's star Faye White.

'For our clients, it's all about staying at the top of their abilities so they can't just stop training or be away from the team or the competition for long or not protect their injury.' added Veronique Sauret-Jackson, Cavendish Imaging managing director.

'The combination of the 3D photo and 3D printing technologies gives sports stars the means and the confidence to go back to their sporting activities quickly.'


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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