At the 2018 World Junior Tournament, Bauer demonstrated that when it comes to digital printing on their gear, the sky is pretty much the limit.
From American Flag themed gear, to Henrik Lundqvists Winter Classic gear (pictured below) and just about everything in between, Bauer has demonstrated a unique capability to put just about any design on a goalie pad.
Digital printing very well could be the next major innovation in goalie pad design.
Traditionally, goalie pads are sewn together using jenpro and pieces of foam varying in density. Up until their digital printing capabilities were demonstrated, Bauer had taken a wild leap in the other direction by announcing their single skin pad designs. From one of the largest hockey brands in the world, this type of innovation is equally exciting as it is un-surprising. In the wake of a bankruptcy announcement in previous years, Bauer is making a valiant effort to dominate the goaltending space.
On top of their single skin designs, Bauer also moved towards a standard sizing system that was the first of it’s kind in goalie gear. Instead of traditional pad sizing systems like 34+1 and 32+1.5, Bauer released a S / M / L / XL approach to their gear. This allows Bauer to cut back drastically on equipment costs when they release a new lineup of gear. Instead of shipping several of each size, they ship a bunch of 4 sizes.
Enter, digital printing.
Up until this point, Bauer had shocked goalie pad manufacturing with their “against the grain” effort in abandoning jenpro and standard build procedures.
The Introduction of Bauer’s Digital Printing is a Game Changer
This is huge for a couple of reasons. First, think material and weight. Both the Supreme / Vapor lines from Bauer use their single skin C.O.R technology. Adding a completely custom graphic to a set of goalie pads takes almost zero extra material (other than print material).
Second, customization. When Bauer ushered in a new era of their goalie gear, they sacrificed quite a bit in regards to customization. Pads were in a set of standard sizes, with standard colors. For goalies who prefer the custom option, Brian’s and other manufactures who use traditional methods have been their go to. Digital printing changes all that.
For the 2017/2018 season there are a few goalies rocking a completely custom graphic on their Bauer 2S gear (see, Dubnyk, Lundqvist).
Devan Dubnyk’s 2S OD1N Minnesota Wild gear
Henrik Lundqvist’s Winter Classic (2018) Gear
But, Bauer’s digital printing goes beyond the NHL.
In recent weeks, starting with the World Junior Tournament, Bauer has released a number of custom digitally printed pads for various Bauer athletes.
Mike DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires dropped his latest Bauer “Superman” pads on Instagram and Richard Bachman of the Utica Comets recently had his “Save of the Day” foundation gear on display.
The capabilities of this digital printing trend are limitless and right now, Bauer is leading the charge.
This capability is extremely important for the goalie gear manufacturing space simply because of it’s time and efficiency. By eliminating costly pad sizes and material used in the pads, Bauer has certainly increased margin and gained market share in the gear space.
Can they keep it up?
Only time will tell. For now, we’re all along for the ride.
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