Dec 29, 2014 | By Simon

With as many as 3.8 million concussions occurring from sporting and recreational athletic activities each year in the US alone, it comes with little surprise that sporting goods manufacturers have started to look into creating product designs that help monitor potential brain trauma.

Sports equipment manufacturer Reebok, who is now owned by Adidas, successfully anticipated the amount of concussions to grow nearly five years ago. Since then, the company has been actively busy in developing a solution that both monitors potential brain trauma as well as prevents obstructing an athlete's physical performance.

With over 113 million athletes participating in helmet-required sports including football, hockey, snowboarding, horseback riding and more, Reebok's Checklight wearable warning device is almost certain to succeed. The device, which has already been winning international design awards, registers blows to the head and offers an immediately visible reading of the force of the last impact.

Similar to a lot of other product designs we've been hearing about as of late, bringing it to market was successful thanks to the iterative and low-cost prototyping methods that 3D printing can offer.

The man responsible for the 3D printing at Reebok's rapid prototyping lab, Gary Rabinovitz, recently presented at TCT how the product was conceived and ultimately developed with the help of 3D printing:

Using not one but five different types of 3D printing technologies including full-color prints to demonstrate lighting systems to multi-material prints for engineering iterations, the Reebok Checklight has gone through a myriad of iterations over the past four years that have brought the product size down and comfort level up. In all, 465 test subjects went through 1,500 units of experimentation and the prototypes went through 15,000 drop tests.

Among other applications that Gary discusses, 3D printing not only helped in designing the actual product, but the use of 3D printed 'dummy heads' also allowed for them to test the fit of their products using 3D printing as well. The full-color prints were vital for creating color-sensitive parts for the lighting system and their Z-Corp full-color 3D printer was used so much that they have already had to purchase a second unit to replace it.

As for as working with other team members on the wearable sensors, 3D printing allowed for the team to work back and forth quickly while prototyping different systems. A full-breakdown of the internal sensors was done by ADAFRUIT earlier this year:

Regardless if you're a competitive athlete who is considering the Reebok Checklight or not, the wearable is a perfect example of just how powerful 3D printing can be when used for designing iteratively on large-scale projects and ultimately, bringing that product to market as flawlessly as possible.

The Checklight retails for $149.95 on Reebok.


Posted in 3D Printing Technology


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