Sports equipment manufacturer SHOC was encountering problems with one of its key products: a visor for American football helmets. Working with AMTIL’s Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub), it found a solution in 3D printing.

SHOC is an Australian-owned and operated business that provides sports industry after-market polycarbonate helmet visors for American football and lacrosse. The company has been providing its products for just over five years.

The challenge

SHOC’s 2.0 Lightning Visor football-helmet visor was suffering some fitting issues, which were causing premature cracking of the visor. The reason for this was that the 2.0 Lightning product was designed as a one-size-fits-all visor. While it fitted most helmets okay, on one helmet, the Riddell Speedflex, it had to be bent to fit the mask. This was a major issue because the Speedflex is the most popular helmet in the sport currently, meaning failure issues for the visor were exacerbated. SHOC pulled the 2.0 Lightning visor after several issues arose and the company did not want to risk any further problems for its end customers.

The solution

SHOC engaged the team at product design and development specialists ONEPOINTSIX in late 2018 to begin the redesign of its 2.0 Lightning football-helmet visor. The Zero G project consisted of two parts.

The first part: to redesign the 2.0 Lightning visor that would fit the Speedflex perfectly with zero bending of the polycarbonate. The redesigned visor would basically retain the same styling of the 2.0 Lightning visor, but to perform a shape upgrade so that it would fit the more pinched style of the Speedflex helmet’s mask.

The project would employ 3D printing processes to facilitate the printing of the updated design, and test fitting. When the 3D-printed part did not fit on the mask properly, SHOC and ONEPOINTSIX made small design shape changes and reprinted the part. This enabled the team to quickly bring the part in for a perfect fit.

The team also utilised the 3D printed part to present the new design to its customers and invite feedback. The importance of this part of the process became clear at one point when it emerged that SHOC had omitted to lower the top of the visor so that it did not cover the mask label. This would have been a significant issue with some of the professional teams, who must show the label on their helmets.

The second part of the project was to design a new quick-fitting visor clip. The newly designed VIPER clips would be utilised not just on the new SHOC Zero G visor but on all other visors offered by SHOC, as well as other competitor visor brands. ONEPOINTSIX was contracted to perform the design work for the clips and utilise 3D printing to facilitate testing of the parts and ensure a perfect fit on the Speedflex helmet, as provided.

SHOC provided the design and 3D-printed sample to its US factory, who indicated that the custom shape that had initially been chosen would prove extremely difficult to mould, and suggested instead utilising a toroid shape as the base shape of the visor. The team went back to the CAD software with this advice, with ONEPOINTSIX working directly with the factory and their mould maker to make the changes to the CAD design. The shape was quickly updated and another sample was printed; further tweaks to the shape were required and additional samples were printed.

ONEPOINTSIX supplied SHOC’s factory with the CAD drawings, and 3D-printed samples were made at the factory of both the clips and the visor. Samples were received and checked by ONEPOINTSIX, and mould manufacturing began.

At present SHOC has finalised the clips and they are in production. The mould for the visor initially failed optical testing but SHOC is close to resolving this. The visor part has been supplied, SHOC has test-fitted it onto the helmet and all masks, and it is a perfect fit. Finally the mould has been repolished for optical clarity and the design finalised in late February.

One lesson learned in hindsight was that SHOC would have benefitted from going to end customers with design proposals and receiving feedback on various 3D-printed shapes. This would have provided direct feedback in regard to customer experience.

The outcome

SHOC has completed the design and testing of its new product for the American football helmet market utilising the services of ONEPOINTSIX. It has received factory final samples of all parts and is currently awaiting final mould tweaks to begin production imminently.

The use of 3D printing was instrumental in getting an exact fit of the visor to the helmet. If it was not for 3D printing, the project would inevitably have entailed large amounts of guesswork, which would have been massively time-consuming. Additive manufacturing allowed SHOC to make exact changes, and enabled quick turnarounds on testing and verification.

The AM Hub is an initiative delivered by AMTIL in partnership with the Victorian State Government to provide an industry-driven collaborative network of technology users, suppliers and supporters that will promote the adoption of additive manufacturing technology. For more information, please contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666 or email