Guardlab is the official mouth guard of the UFC; the company uses 3D scanning and 3D printing to offer cheaper, safer sports guards.
Mouth guards may not be the most glamorous item of athletic equipment, but they’re definitely one of the most important.
Founded in 2014, Guardlab makes the official mouth guard of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The company makes “neuromuscular” guards to keep the jaws tight; perfect if you’re being repeatedly punched in the face.
A key advantage that GuardLab has over rivals is that they employ a custom 3D scanning and printing process. Fighters, athletes, and fans don’t have to deal with gloopy putty to get a custom fit for their pearly whites.
The process starts with bite optimization, so the entire jaw — including top and bottom teeth — is aligned in the best way for your mouth. Then a 3D scan is taken and used as the basis for a unique mold created with a MakerBot 3D printer.
Once the scan is complete and GuardLab has created the digital model, customers can easily reorder replacement mouth guards as often as they need.
Guardlab CEO Aidan Butler recently gave GQ magazine a tour of their facilities. “We don’t pay people to wear our products and don’t try to outbid other companies,” he says. “We’ve found athletes generally come around to wanting one of ours.”
Indeed, beyond the UFC, the company is also providing mouth guards to the New England Patriots, The White Sox, The Blue Jays, Georgetown University, the Australian Football League, the whole of the Renzo Gracie Academy, and more.
Normal folks — ones who don’t beat each other to a pulp inside a steel cage — can also get a custom mouth guard of their own. Guardlab has a “Find a 3D Scanner” tool on their website, which puts you in touch with a local dentist to handle the scanning.
In fact, this is an integral part of the Guardlab success story. Instead of investing in 3D scanning to get their company off the ground, they formed relationships with hundreds of dentists already using the technology. And this in turn lead to a drop in price for end-users.
Before, custom medical guards could cost over $1,200 a pop. They also had to be replaced if you lost a tooth or your bite changed. Today, Guardlab can now offer the same for around $250.
License: The text of "UFC Fighters Using 3D Printed Mouth Guards by Guardlab" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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