3D Printing: Sports’ New Performance Enhancer?



You’ve just spent several months watching your team perform at a high level, and an encouraging level of consistency at that. Not peaking too soon, catching fire at the right moment and the playoffs looming right around the corner. You’re confident, your team is confident, and you couldn’t be any more excited.

1 Week before the playoffs start – your Superstar player goes down. The Home crowd goes dead silent, you suddenly slam your face in your palm in disbelief, the sour tastes grows to the point where it’s making you feel sick to your stomach. That’s it. As a fan – All those months spending countless hours watching your team perform, spending rent money on tickets, Tweeting, bragging to friends, etc.; seemingly go spiralling down the drain. (We won’t even get into how said injured Superstar and his Teammates are feeling. One could only imagine…)

Well what if I told you that entire scenario may never exist in the near future? You probably think I’m crazy, but picture an ACL tear shrinking from an 8 month recovery time frame to a miniscule 8 DAY full recovery. It’s happening now… Behind closed doors in high-tech state of the art laboratories equipped with 3D Printers. No, not those little gadget boxes that print cool prototypes, parts, or lamp shades. We’re talking Human cartilage, muscle tissues, and organs BEING PRINTED by a machine.

I won’t bore you with all the scientific methods and terminology into how this is all possible, but believe us; it is currently underway at Universities and labs all across the United States. The University of Wake Forest already has a Medical Science Staff that believes they will have mastered the process to make 3D printed human muscle tissue that can fully regenerate itself. Pretty mind blowing if you think about how this medical breakthrough will change sports as we currently know them.

Sports Implications

3D LegThe first thing that probably comes to mind is injury healing time. I mean think how many devastating injuries there were in the NBA last year: Kobe, Rondo, Westbrook, Rose, etc. Scientists will soon be able to print an identical living breathing Achilles tendon made from Nano Fibers and bio-printing for Kobe. Why stop there – that same day they can print a MCL for Russ and an ACL for Rondo. Imagine how much tougher the Eastern Conference and Western Conference would have been if all those guys didn’t go down.

Next Generation players will have Sci-Fi esque recovery times, something that could only previously be seen in a freaking Wolverine movie. Or better yet, that bad-ass scene in the infamous Blade movie with Wesley Snipes. “Season ending injuries” will become a forgotten phrase. Pretty damn mind blowing if you really put some thought into it.

Picture these scenarios:

– RGIII never losing his elite speed.

– Steve Nash playing a career without being riddled by chronic back pains.

– Larry Bird (See Steve Nash again).

– Bo Jackson… Need I say more?

The possibilities are endless and records will be shattered. Hell, a new record keeping system might be needed. .

Real Life Implications

As I mentioned before, the possible outcomes from 3D printing for sports are potentially ground breaking. But what about the rest of society? This technology has the potential to literally change people’s lives, and not just their favorite sporting team’s results. People of all ages, from a newborn baby to seniors that are 80+ years of age, are susceptible to their body breaking down and requiring medical treatment. In a lot of these cases a joint replacement or organ transplant simply does not work and the operation is not a success, or the patient simply can’t afford the treatment.

With 3D printing, however, we could be seeing an end to that (and without having to endure lengthy waits for the surgery) and with better results as the part is designed to the patients DNA. Forget sports for a moment, this could change our entire lives and how our society views and appreciates science and medicine.

This technology is still in development, but it doesn’t mean we can’t observe it with excitement and expectations. With that being said, do not be surprised if the United States lags behind other countries in this field. The medical industry will do whatever it can to suppress this to keep their current paradigm in place, and that includes all kinds of Bad science and propaganda being released to create paranoia and scepticism in the public. Be smarter than that, folks. Look outside the hype! And realize the potential that this new technology is capable of with the right time.