3D printing technologies are enabling individuals and organizations all over the globe to cut back on production costs. As came to light recently, even the Pope has reaped the benefits of additive manufacturing, as members of his Swiss Guard will soon be trading in their expensive (and heavy) metal helmets for plastic 3D printed ones.
The Swiss Guard, recognized as one of the world’s smallest armies, is a group of single Swiss Catholic men (all under 30 years of age) who have pledged themselves to protecting the Pope. Soon, a new group of recruits will be joining the force to serve Pope Francis for at least two years.
The highly trained guards might incite envy from their predecessors, however, as they will no longer have to don heavyweight and cumbersome metal helmets. Cristoph Graf, the commander of the Swiss Guard, recently presented the guards’ new headgear: lightweight helmets 3D printed from PVC.
Not only are the helmets said to be much lighter than their metal counterparts, but they are also much cheaper to produce. At 880 euros per helmet, they are about half the cost of the metal ones. As an additional bonus for the guards (mostly stationed outdoors), the 3D printed helmets are UV-resistant.
In appearance, the 3D printed headgear does resemble the traditional metal helmets, and they still bear the coat of arms of Pope Julius II, who was responsible for founding the Swiss Guard in 1506.
Interestingly, this isn’t even the first time that 3D printing has crossed paths with the Vatican. In 2016, Pope Francis gave his blessing to a fleet of 3D printers being sent to Uganda and the Congo for the purpose of manufacturing prosthetics. The initiative was presented to Pope Francis by a group of Italian high school students who were responsible for the Crowd4Africa crowdfunding project.