Baseball glove design has barely changed since cowhide gloves were donned over 75 years ago, a notion that baffles when looking at the highpaced evolution of sports equipment elsewhere in that time period.
So it’s as a huge step that the latest Rawlings REV1X design combines the proven, soft pocket leather with more modern polymers elsewhere in the design, and by doing so reduces the glove weight considerably, increases its durability and boosts the responsiveness of its wearer to pluck a ball from the air across centre field.
The move also allows for more customisation – a clear polymer backplate protects printed graphics that can be designed and printed bespoke on the back of the glove to a Major League player’s wishes – making more variants of the same REV1X design more marketable, and dragging the baseball glove into the realms of modern sports equipment.
Central to the performance factor is a polymer lattice design that replaces foams, packed felt or sandwiched-and-glued leather padding in the pinky and thumb inserts.
The lattice, made using Carbon’s 3D printing process, is designed to add stiffness in the regions where it is necessary and soften regions where a certain flexure is required, adding another dimension of control to the design.
By using FPU 50 for the latticed parts, Carbon enabled Rawlings to produce a more durable baseball glove that players can break in faster and use longer.
The element of players needing to break a glove in (ie. battering the heel of a glove with a round mallet to soften the leather and laces, to allow better flexing of the glove and wearer comfort) is additionally reduced through the redesign of glove heel (palm wrist bit), and wrist closure, which both eschew the traditional laces, and now features an elasticated closure.
Rawlings partnered with digital manufacturing experts Fast Radius to investigate the properties of Carbon’s materials and lattices, and once convinced, to quickly move from prototyping to production – manufacturing the gloves at scale so baseball players anywhere, from within the Major Leagues to high school ball fields, could access the REV1X glove.
“We were thrilled to help Rawlings scale production for this revolutionary glove,” said Fast Radius CMO John Nanry, adding, “Our mission is to make new things possible, and our partnership with Rawlings has allowed us to do just that for baseball players and fans everywhere.”
“The REV1X glove is validation that our DLS process accelerates time to market by producing functional prototypes. The lattice insert is a major milestone in glove design and brings the latest in additive manufacturing to baseball,” said Philip DeSimone, chief product and business development officer at Carbon. The unfortunate Phillies fan, continued: “We’re thrilled to be a part of the process with Fast Radius and Rawlings.”
Rawlings Platinum and Gold Glove Award winner and four-time All-Star shortshop for the New York Mets, Francisco Lindor, is said to have played an integral role in the creation of the REV1X, providing several seasons worth of feedback to the design team, and will be the face of the REV1X marketing campaign in the U.S.