Cavendish Imaging/Sky Sports
John Heitinga has a mask 3D Printed for his game on Saturday
After a year trying to shoehorn my favourite football (soccer to all our Stateside readers) team into a 3D printing story can you imagine my delight when I spotted a genuine link for this editor to write a unbiased match preview on a 3D printing website in The Times.
Tomorrow Everton travel to Craven Cottage right beside the Thames in a huge game to take on Fulham. Both teams must win; Fulham are scrapping for their lives as they prop up the table and my beloved Everton are still in the hunt for the elusive and prosperous Champions League money.
As Fulham ringed the changes in January they brought in former Everton player of the season and World Cup Finalist John (Jonny) Heitinga to strengthen up their back line. For Everton, letting go of a reserve that also happened to be one of the club’s top earners was a no brainer, for Fulham, the addition of an experienced international centre half should help to plug the leakiest defence in the country.
As the English Premier League reaches its climax teams players are often walking wounded, playing on with all manner of injuries because they are vital to a team's end of season push. Fulham need Heitinga, so when he broke his nose in a training ground accident the Cottagers were worried they could be without him for the rest of the season.
A broken nose traditionally keeps a player out for up to three weeks but Heitinga is no mere mortal he wanted to play on. Here’s the bit you’ll most likely be interested in after this writer’s indulgence; 3D Printing has come to the rescue. Heitinga should be able to take on his former club with the help of a 3D Printed mask.
When the incident happened the club set about finding a solution to their problem, no doubt having seen the recent stories of Andrew Dawood’s Cavendish Imaging rebuilding a man’s face after a motorbike accident Fulham contacted the London office to book Jonny in for a flying visit post surgery on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Heitinga was scanned and a Nylon sintered mask that fits perfectly to his face and protects the nose without touching the injured tissue was printed in hours. Cavendish Imaging say the use of customised 3D printed masks are on the rise.
Heitinga has already trained with the mask and feels comfortable enough in it to make himself available for selection for Sunday’s all important fixture. Though this editor hopes it has a negative effect on Heitinga’s performance. COYB!