YSU professor among those developing 3D printing technology piquing NFL’s interest

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Engineering professor Eric MacDonald has been researching and experimenting with adding sensors to 3D printers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, is a popular new technology. Youngstown company America Makes specializes in 3D printing. It’s the reason the NFL wants the company involved in a new safety initiative — the NFL Helmet Challenge.

John York, chairman of the NFL Owner’s Health and Safety Committee, sent a statement, saying:

“America Makes has created a hub for additive manufacturing in this area. That hub involves the government, industry and university. Why not have the NFL come to the hub and let innovators be innovators?”

Eric MacDonald, an engineering professor at YSU, has been exploring this new technology over the past two years. In his research and teachings, MacDonald has been experimenting with adding sensors to 3D printers.

Now his research will be involved in the NFL’s Helmet Challenge.

“Once the NFL researchers saw the sensorized 3D printing structures that we’re doing, they immediately identified an opportunity to add intelligence to the helmets,” MacDonald said.

The NFL wants to develop the safest helmet possible.

Adam Earnheardt, Communications Department chair at YSU, said this safety initiative could have a trickle-down effect.

“We see this making football safer for everyone at different levels. Yeah, it starts at the NFL, but this technology can span down into college and high school.”

There will be a three-day symposium to present the research in November. The event will be held at the DeYor Performing Arts Center downtown. Experts in the field will be invited.

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