How a 3D-printed brace may keep Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis in the Super Bowl


The Denver Broncos defense denied the Carolina Panthers a Super Bowl win on Sunday, but the Panthers were able to claim a milestone nonetheless: Linebacker Thomas Davis was the first player to wear a 3D-printed device in a Super Bowl game.

Davis broke a bone in his forearm during the NFC Championship game. That kept him out of the rest of the game, but it did not keep the Panthers out of Super Bowl 50. And Davis showed determination all of last week that he would be on that stage with his team.

His injured right forearm has a metal plate held together with 12 screws, but that can't compensate for the fact that he's still healing or, more importantly, absorb the impact of a tackle, each of which has the force of approximately 1,600 pounds, reports the Medical Daily. Davis reached out to Whiteclouds, a 3D-printing lab headquartered in Ogden, UT, that works with the likes of NASA, Marvel and Walmart, for a solution.

Rendering of the brace designed and 3D printed by
Whiteclouds for Carolina Panthers linebacker
Thomas Davis.
Whiteclouds scanned his arm and designed a 3D-printed shock-absorbing brace using its XRD technology, a blend of plastic and rubber-like materials. The conformable Poron microcellular product instantly dissipates force upon impact, absorbing as much as 90% of energy at high-speed impact, according to Whiteclouds.

Design and engineering of the brace took just eight hours, reports CNET, and it was printed in a little over one day on a Stratasys Connex industrial 3D printer. Davis had been wearing the brace during practice, and doctors examined his arm again on Friday, but the full practice load was a clear indication that he would be ready for the game of his life on Sunday, said ESPN. And he was: He finished second on the team in the number of tackles (seven).

Unfortunately for Davis, Sunday would not go his, or Cam Newton's, way. For both of those players, though, there will be another Super Bowl.

If you want to see a picture of Davis' arm with more than 40 stitches, check out the article on ESPN.