3D printed mouthpiece Hydra-Guard helps athletes stay hydrated during games

11 March 153D printed mouthpiece Hydra-Guard helps athletes stay hydrated during games

3D printed mouthpiece Hydra-Guard helps athletes stay hydrated during games

If you've ever played a competitive outdoor sport in high temperatures, you'll have found out the hard way that heat quickly wears down players and can even lead to heat exhaustion and even heat strokes. The only solution is to continue to hydrate, but introducing water breaks (as they did at the World Cup in Brazil last summer) tends to kill the pace of the game. That's exactly where the Hydra-Guard comes in, a 3D printed mouthpiece that will enable athletes to stay hydrated while playing.

The Hydra-Guard has been developed by Louisiana-based inventor Joseph Tucker, and it is reportedly the world's first refillable and hydrating mouth guard. Tucker, who lives in Lake Charles, first got the idea for the mouthpiece while training for a marathon in 2012. Facing constant dehydration himself, he started thinking of options for hands-free hydration that doesn't require you to carry a heavy pouch around.

And that's exactly what the Hydra-Guard is. It is essentially a 3D printed mouth guard that has been fitted with a small bag that is placed against the roof of your mouth. The pouch holds about 0.6 ounces (or 18 ml.) of any liquid. Feeling dehydrated during the game? Simply press your tongue against the pouch to make it release its liquid. 'You can put Gatorade, you can put in Powerade,' Tucker explains to local reporters. 'It's a very comfortable fit. You really don't notice it's there. You're able to talk.' And the best thing is, it can be easily refilled between plays or during breaks, minimizing the negative effects on the game itself.

It's no wonder that Tucker has already received very encouraging responses from both amateur and professional athletes. 'It's almost an answer to their prayers. Also parents as well. The parents responses are – a lot of them – are even better, because they want to keep their child healthy,' he revealed. In fact, wide receiver for the New York Giants Odell Beckham Jr. even endorsed it on his Facebook page, writing 'Y'all show some love and follow Hydra-Guard. It's the 'world's first refillable hydrating mouth guard'. It's #royal for pushing hydration on the field and on the sidelines #‎HydraGuard.'

It therefore looks like this clever 3D printed solution to a very common problem is going places. While currently in its manufacturing stage, the Hydra-Guard has already entered into a partnership with the Louisiana State University football squad, who will be using this 3D printed mouthguard during practice throughout the spring. This partnership with the LSU has also been used as a springboard for development, marketing and production. Discussions with other universities are also taking place. 'We're pushing it from the sidelines onto the field and giving those athletes the ability to hydrate while they're in the game,' Tucker says.

A full release of the Hydra-Guard is expected in the spring, for a retail price of $34.99 – which isn't bad in terms of sporting equipment. While production is thus still fully underway, Tucker is already looking towards other applications as well, including for plant employees, miners and others who work in confined spaces. It just goes to show what you can accomplish with a good idea and a 3D printer.

Check out the preview clip for the Hydra-Guard here:



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