Instead of foam, 3D printing is used in NFL’s safest helmets to absorb impact.


**Revolutionizing Helmet Safety: Vicis’ Groundbreaking 3D-Printed Padding**

When it comes to player safety in the NFL, helmet technology has always been at the forefront. And now, helmet maker Vicis has taken the lead with their innovative use of 3D printing to create custom-fit, impact-reducing padding.

In the 2023 NFL safest helmet test rankings, Vicis dominated the scene, claiming the top five spots. However, from the outside, San Francisco 49er defensive end Nick Bosa’s helmet may seem unremarkable. It’s on the inside where the magic happens – with custom 3D-printed pads that are contoured to the shape of his head, offering better protection against impact injuries than any other helmet on the market.

The Zero2-R Matrix ID Trench helmet, created by Vicis, features 3D-printed padding instead of traditional foam. The NFL’s own testing lab has given it the highest rating for player head protection in 2023. But it’s not just the 3D-printed padding that sets this helmet apart – it also incorporates other innovative safety features.

The use of 3D printing technology allows for a better fit and lighter weight, making an already safe helmet even safer. Dozens of players, including the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, and Derek Carr, have already embraced Vicis helmets. In fact, Vicis helmets have consistently ranked highly on the NFL test lists for several years. With updated additive manufacturing technology, Vicis believes their new helmets are better than ever and ready to expand into new markets beyond the NFL.

One of the key aspects behind Vicis’ success lies in the custom-made 3D-printed padding pods within their helmets. These pads are not only created to match the contour of each player’s head but also engineered to be lightweight yet highly effective at absorbing impact. They can be customized according to the player’s position on the field and the types of impacts they are likely to experience. Vicis even offers position-specific helmets designed specifically for quarterbacks and linemen.

“At Vicis, our focus is on impact protection and safety for athletes,” says Jason Neubauer, the company’s VP of product development. Vicis’ R&D lab developed a groundbreaking approach to 3D-printed padding called the Matrix ID Pod system, which was first introduced in 2021. While other companies like Riddell have also used 3D printing lattice padding in helmets, Vicis took this technology to a new level.

“Our helmet takes a different approach in two ways,” explains Neubauer. “We chose to build a high-performing standard helmet that was modular and would allow players to replace the standard fit 3D-printed pods with custom printed Matrix ID pods.” By incorporating 3D-printed components into only the final 25% of the helmet, Vicis reduces cost and manufacturing time.

The helmet’s shell contains six interchangeable 3D-printed padding pods, known as DLTA pods, that buckle upon impact, effectively dispersing energy. These pods come in different thicknesses to customize fit. The Matrix pods, on the other hand, are individually designed and 3D-printed to match the shape and contours of each player’s head, as measured by a 3D scan. This custom-fit system results in a better-fitting helmet with superior impact absorption in the specific areas that need it most.

To test the impact absorption ability of a custom-fitted helmet, Vicis scanned the head of a test dummy and printed helmet pods to fit it perfectly. The result? Vicis claimed the number one spot on the annual NFL safest helmet list. Even their non-personalized helmets with 3D-printed pods ranked at the top. In fact, Vicis secured all five of the highest spots. “Our helmets are very unique in the way they absorb impact,” says Neubauer. “The response we’ve had from players is that, for the first time, this helmet fits with equal pressure around their head and really fits them properly.”

Founded in 2013, Vicis set out to develop new ways to prevent brain injuries and minimize the impact of head injuries in sports. Born out of the University of Washington, the company received grants and funding to advance their research. Today, they have revolutionized helmet safety through their groundbreaking use of 3D printing technology.

Vicis’ emphasis on customized solutions and their commitment to player safety have positioned them as leaders in the helmet industry. With their continued dedication to innovation, Vicis helmets are not only protecting athletes in the NFL but are also set to make an impact in new markets. As the demand for safer sports equipment grows, Vicis and their 3D-printed helmets are leading the charge towards a safer future.

Innovative Technology Revolutionizes Helmet Safety

In the ever-evolving world of sports, where player safety is of utmost importance, one company has made a significant impact with their groundbreaking helmet design. Vicis, a company founded by Per Reinhall and Samuel Browd, has revolutionized helmet safety with their innovative Zero1 helmet. This helmet, which features an impact-absorbing outer shell and internal memory foam for a snug fit, quickly gained recognition and secured several contracts with NFL teams in 2016. The success of the Zero1 propelled Vicis to further advancements in their helmet technology.

Over the next few years, Vicis continued to refine their helmet design, receiving substantial investments from NFL players and other investors. In 2017, Vicis acquired 3D printing technology from the startup company Carbon. This acquisition allowed Vicis to explore new possibilities, particularly in the area of impact absorption. They brought a Carbon 3D printer into their Seattle R&D facility to use as a prototyping device and to study lattice geometries that could enhance impact absorption.

In 2018, Carbon partnered with helmet maker Riddell, becoming the first company to utilize 3D printing in an end-use product for impact absorption. Meanwhile, Vicis faced financial challenges, with expenses exceeding profits and investors withdrawing their support. By 2019, Vicis was forced to lay off most of its staff. Despite these setbacks, the company continued its research and development efforts.

In early 2021, Vicis made a major breakthrough. They discovered a lattice geometry for their helmet padding that they favored but faced difficulties in consistently manufacturing it. This is when the application development team at Carbon stepped in to assist Vicis in optimizing their 3D printing workflow. They collaborated with Vicis and their contract manufacturer, Fast Radius, to enhance parts using a new Carbon elastomer material.

In 2020, the assets of Vicis were acquired by Innovatus Capital Partners, a capital market company that later merged Vicis with Schutt Sports under a new parent company called Certor Sports. The following year, Vicis unveiled the Zero2 Trench Matrix helmet, featuring 3D-printed padding. This innovation caught the attention of Time Magazine, earning it a spot among the best inventions of the year.

With the arrival of 2023, Vicis introduced their most advanced helmet yet. This year marks the debut of Vicis helmets printed with Carbon’s new EPU 45 material, a fast-printing, strain-rate-sensitive elastomer. This cutting-edge material significantly reduces printing time, allowing for more cost-effective production. Vicis utilizes the Carbon L1 3D printer in their manufacturing process, which can produce padding for two helmets per printing run.

This new development presents a promising opportunity for Vicis to expand on a global scale. With a lower-cost product, they can offer customization upgrades to college and high school athletes, attracting a wider market. The Vicis interchangeable pod system also allows teams to purchase standard helmets and provide personalized upgrades to players who desire them. The enhanced protection and performance offered by the customized Vicis helmet have been proven through NFL helmet testing. According to James Sauerbaum, the Business Development Director at Carbon, the impact-dampening lattice structure in the customized helmet provides anywhere from a 10% to 30% improvement in protection.

To achieve a personalized fit, Vicis employs a 3D scanner called the Structure Sensor Pro, which attaches to an iPad. This technology allows precise measurements and ensures a perfect fit for each player. Overall, the combination of Vicis’ innovative helmet design and Carbon’s 3D printing technology has resulted in a significant breakthrough in helmet safety.

Vicis’ commitment to research and development, along with their partnership with Carbon, has propelled them to the forefront of helmet safety technology. With continued advancements and a focus on affordability, the future looks bright for Vicis as they aim to provide superior protection to athletes at various levels of play.

Title: The Futuristic Technology Revolutionizing Sports Helmets


In the fast-paced world of sports, safety is of paramount importance. One company leading the charge in helping athletes protect their heads is Vicis with their groundbreaking helmet technology. By harnessing the power of 3D printing and advanced materials, Vicis has managed to create a fully customizable helmet that not only ensures maximum protection but also offers optimal comfort for athletes across various sports.

Customization for Enhanced Protection:

Vicis has revolutionized the helmet industry by introducing a unique feature that allows athletes to customize their helmets. By utilizing the innovative padding system from Toolkit3D, Vicis can now offer fully personalized helmets that cater to the unique needs of each player. This has given rise to a new era of sports equipment, where athletes can have their helmets fitted perfectly, ensuring unparalleled protection on the field.

Efficient Scanning Process:

To achieve this level of customization, Vicis had to develop an efficient method of gathering accurate scan data from athletes nationwide. While scanning itself only takes a few minutes, the company had to find an economical workflow to expand its helmet offering. Currently, for elite NFL athletes, the company’s sales representatives scan the players, allowing Vicis to collect the necessary data for customizing their helmets. This process has proven highly effective and paves the way for Vicis to extend its technology to other sports in the future.

The Power of 3D Printing:

Although 3D printing has faced challenges in mass customization for various products, Vicis has successfully implemented this technology in their helmet manufacturing process. By leveraging Carbon’s materials, 3D printing capabilities, and lattice structure parts, Vicis has achieved remarkable success in ensuring optimal protection for athletes. This innovative approach is not limited to just sports helmets. Major brands such as Specialized, Adidas, CCM, and Osprey have also adopted 3D printing and lattice structures for their products, highlighting the versatility and effectiveness of this technology.

Unleashing the Potential of Foam with 3D-Printed Lattice Structures:

Vicis is not the only company exploring the possibilities of foam and 3D-printed lattice structures. Sauerbaum’s business development team actively seeks out brands that utilize foam for energy management in their products. By collaborating with these brands, Carbon offers its expertise, helping them design and manufacture parts using the unique advantages of 3D printing. This partnership enables companies to identify the most efficient and effective design iterations for their products, ultimately resulting in improved performance and cost savings.

Wide Application in Different Industries:

The success of 3D printing lattice padding applications extends well beyond Vicis and Carbon. Currently, over 30% of Carbon’s business comes from this segment, with expansion plans in various sectors. The automotive seating market, healthcare (wheelchair seats), other protective applications, and racket sports all stand to benefit from this groundbreaking technology. With continuous advancements and improvements in the field, the limitless potential of 3D printing in enhancing safety and performance continues to shape the future of various industries.


As Vicis takes the lead in revolutionizing sports helmets, their commitment to continuous improvement is evident. Through the power of 3D printing and advanced materials, Vicis has not only created customizable helmets but has also paved the way for other industries to explore innovative applications. The future holds exciting possibilities as technology continues to evolve, ensuring the safety and protection of athletes worldwide. Vicis, derived from the Latin word for change, truly embodies the spirit of progress, leaving a lasting impact on the world of sports.

Original source


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