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3D printing helps training aid pack a punch

A new training aid that aims to reduce injury and improve performance for boxers during bag and pad work is being exported all over the world.

The Boxing Hand Grenade (BHG) is the brainchild of Shrewsbury-based personal trainer and martial arts instructor John Docherty, who developed the handheld device after sustaining a cumulative injury to his hand and wrist. 

Faced with a race to be first to market, he turned to Telford-based Protolabs - the world’s fastest digital manufacturer and a pioneer of advanced manufacturing technologies - to produce a prototype through its PolyJet 3D printing service.

“The idea for the BHG came after I used a piece of foam I found on the gym floor to grip in my fist whilst I was sparring with a client,” saidJohn, whose potential boxing career had to be cut short due to issues with his eyesight.

“It had the effect of improving the structural integrity of the hand and absorbing the impact shock from a punch, so the idea for the Boxing Hand Grenade was born and the response has been fantastic.”

The device has been ergonomically designed to fit the contours of the hand and to be worn under traditional boxing hand wraps inside boxing gloves. There are also a number of key features that are enhanced by the 3D printing production process that sets it apart from similar aids. 

John said: “As an entrepreneur with limited resources I needed to find a manufacturing partner that understood what I was trying to create and how important it was to get the product to market before another innovation came to light.

“From the first minute I met the engineers from Protolabs, I knew they recognised the urgency but, equally importantly, identified that a combination of 3D printing for the prototype and injection moulding for production would give me a performance and price point that worked."

Charlotte-Anne Smith, application engineer at Protolabs, said: “We were delighted to help John develop this truly innovative project in such a quick time and at a realistic cost.

“PolyJet 3D printing technology provided outstanding detail, precision and surface smoothness. This is an exciting innovation for boxing and other martial arts and could prevent hundreds, if not thousands, of long-term injuries.”

The Boxing Hand Grenade has undergone rigorous testing via professional boxers and professional fight hand wrappers, including former Welsh Boxing Champion Russell Pearce. And it has also been sent to the training camp of US boxer Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, the protégé of Floyd Mayweather.

Pictured: John Docherty with Charlotte-Anne Smith from Protolabs


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