Mar. 5, 2015 | By Alec

If you’ve ever seriously played a competitive sport in high school or college, you’ll probably know that custom mouthguards are crazily expensive. They can quickly cost hundreds of dollars, while a cheap mass-produced alternative typically doesn’t fit at all. And that’s quite a problem, as some sports like football or wrestling can’t really be played without one nowadays, leaving millions of athletes uncomfortable.

And that’s where GRiTT 3D comes in: a Montana-based company that produces custom made mouthguards that can be customized to fit your age, your teeth and even the sport you’re playing. As they write, "Every GRiTT 3D mouthguard is made from FDA-approved materials and is NHSA compliant. Each also features our patent-pending ridges, which provide every athlete with a secure, comfortable fit, optimal breathability, and protection during competition. Because the ridges make the guard less bulky, they allow it to stay more securely on the upper teeth. This increases breathability, improves communication, and maximizes comfort."

While that sounds a bit like typical custom made mouthguards, these GRiTT 3Ds will eventually be retailed at just $15.99, making it just about the cheapest sports accessory you’ll need. As its developer Dustin Cederholm explains, the GRiTT 3D came about due to endless frustrations with quality custom mouthguards. "It became apparent how truly inaccessable they are. Both the cost and dentist visits needed to get a custom guard puts the best guards out of reach for most families," Dustin says. "GRiTT 3D will offer a solution. Our company combines innovation, quality, value and technology to create both a unique business opportunity and an amazing, affordable product."

Their secret? 3D printing mouthguards in soft plastic, based on 3D scans. "Our medical-grade, FDA-approved material is a blend of medical grade thermoplastics and is similar to the material used to make top quality custom mouthguards you might receive from a dentist," Dustin explains. "The difference in compounds is minimal but important to the unique 3D print process, without sacrificing shock absorption, comfort, or fit."

The idea is that GRiTT 3D visits highschools, colleges and so on, to scan the mouths of the 12 million young athletes in the US. And the options for customization are immense. "We will be able to design a guard specifically for the unique facial structures in athletes as young as 8!" Dustin explains. "Our customizable features increase breathability, provide for improved communication, and maximum comfort. Each guard can also be personalized with team colors and logo and even an athlete’s name."

This custom 3D printing process even enables them to tackle sport-specific issues. "We can design for the snowboarder who needs extra protection at the bite impact points," Dustin says as an example. "Or we can design a mouthguard for the ice hockey player who needs reinforcement and protection for the front teeth." The GRiTT 3D team is even envisioning applications that have nothing to do with sport, such as for people who grind their teeth at night or who have trouble snoring.

In short, the GRiTT 3D mouthguard concept is brilliant, and has a huge potential market. There’s just one problem with this 3D printing project, and that is funding. While the development process is largely completed, they are currently lacking the funds to purchase the industrial-strength 3D printers and materials necessary to produce these mouthguards, so they are hoping to raise $15.000 through Indiegogo to cover the costs (closing date is 1 April).

Of course, you can also get your hands on one of these mouthguards by supporting this crowdfunding campaign; a pledge of $50 dollars is enough to get not just one, but two versions: one for practises and one for games. These are expected to be delivered by October 2015, though it is currently unclear how they will scan their backers’ teeth. Nonetheless, this is a great concept that we can definitely see becoming a success.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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an wrote at 3/6/2015 11:29:49 PM:

you didn't actually interview Dustin. you quoted their indiegogo website. he's just a marketing guy. the CEO and COO are the brains you should have interviewed.

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