Mar 16, 2016 | By Benedict

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and GuardLab have announced a global licensing agreement that will see UFC athletes provided with custom 3D scanned and printed mouthguards. GuardLab, a NY-based mouthguard company, will also begin selling UFC branded mouthguards for fans.

All players of contact sports such as boxing, football, and hockey will have gone through the bizarre procedure of soaking a cheap rubber mouthguard in boiling water, biting into it while it is still soft, and waiting for it to solidify into that promised “custom fit”. This method, effective though it can be, is slowly being made obsolete by 3D scanning and 3D printing technology. Now, instead of using the crude “boil and bite” method, athletes can have their mouths 3D scanned, data from which can be used to create a perfectly fitting 3D printed mouthguard.

Safety is paramount in all physical activity, but if there is one particular sport that really, really requires a high quality mouthguard, then mixed martial arts (MMA) might be it. Made immensely popular by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA is a full-contact fighting sport with few rules regarding striking and grappling styles. Because of the high safety risks involved with the sport, including oral ones, organizers of UFC have jumped at the chance to team up with GuardLab, a company at the forefront of mouthguard technology and one which utilizes 3D scanning and 3D printing technology to provide the safest, most comfortable guards.

Based in Long Island, NewYork, GuardLab possesses a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility where each customized mouthguard is made using the customer’s unique 3D scan data. Engineered with a proprietary Alignment Repositioning Cushion (ARC), the 3D printed mouthguards are designed to minimize several forms of impact injuries, and are available in several grades of protection. The company produces guards suited for full-contact occasions, low-contact occasions, training, and even makes anti-grinding guards to be worn during sleep. The company recently partnered with VerifyMe to implement a counterfeit check into their 3D printed products, a feature that will be incorporated into all products before the second quarter of 2016. As of last year, GuardLab used MakerBot 3D printers to produce their custom-fit mouthguards.

"With the ever-changing landscape in professional sports, we're always looking for the next cutting-edge technology and innovation to aid athletes that compete in the UFC," said UFC Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Products Tracey Bleczinski. "We are excited to partner with GuardLab as they continue to develop products that help improve the overall performance and wellness of professional athletes.”

"UFC is an exciting world-class organization, and we are thrilled about our partnership to equip and offer their athletes with what we believe to be a transformative piece of sports technology," added GuardLab CEO Aidan Butler. "We are committed to creating an engaging brand experience and delivering a superior product for athletes everywhere."

As well as providing complimentary mouthguards to all interested competitors at UFC events, the collaboration between UFC and GuardLab will involve educating athletes on the benefits of wearing protective guards. To encourage mouthguard use at the lowest levels of competition, GuardLab will also begin selling UFC branded mouthguards to the general public.

With the “boil and bite” method starting to bite the dust, 3D scanned and printed mouthguards could soon become the norm at all levels of contact sport. However, with GuardLab mouthguards retailing for $149.99 (under 18s) and $249.99 (18 and over), it could be a while yet before amateur athletes can afford to have a bite of the 3D printed cherry.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Lauren wrote at 3/31/2016 9:20:51 PM:

A Neuromuscular mouthguard offers the best protection while playing sports. This type of guard provides the highest level of protection because its design can be individualized for both the athlete and the sport. 3D scanning ensures an excellent fit, and great comfort. This is especially important for our youth athletes because the comfort of the guard increases the likelihood that it will be worn. GuardLab will create an individual guard, and optimize the position of your jaw to help absorb impact and dissipate pressure to assist in injury prevention. Additionally, it has been proven that this perfect alignment enhances flexibility, balance, strength and explosive power.

I. A. M. Magic wrote at 3/16/2016 5:19:56 PM:

I need some feeback here, Is the "boil and bite" method really bad? Is it too expensive? Does it not work? Isn't custom fit? From my experience, the fit was perfect, not too bulky either, cheap and tasted good. Why would you spend $150 if the $10 option works just as well?

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