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You may not think a lot about your child's athletic equipment and how it's made, but that's all the engineers at STX do.
The Baltimore-based company makes equipment for lacrosse, field hockey and now ice hockey. It can take years of development to get it right.
The design lab at STX in south Baltimore is a busy place full of new ideas. Their engineers are always working to come up with the latest in lacrosse, field hockey and ice hockey equipment.
"It all starts with the player. They're our inspiration. They are our target customer and they give us all the great feedback. We need to make the awesome products that come out on the store shelves, " said Mike Schmittdiel, STX engineering manager.
The process starts with a collaboration of engineers, bringing together all of their research, information and expertise. Those ideas then move to a computer program that allows them to design in 360 degrees.
"We do some research. We talk to players. We go into the field see the failure modes. We go through a bunch of iterations through those designs, so we ideate, that means creating ideas through design concepts and sketches and stuff like that. Then we make prototypes, " Schmittdiel said.
The engineers make the prototypes on a 3-D printer. That allows them to hold the prototypes in their hands in a matter of hours.
"The 3-D printing process is our first opportunity to see the reality in 3-D of our designs. That gives us the chance to refine that design very fast, much faster than making another prototype through another means, " Schmittdiel said.
They even take those prototypes into the field to see them in action. Then make any changes to the design before finalizing and sending it to the manufacturer. They can't tell WBAL-TV 11 News exactly what the future holds for their sporting equipment, but they are already working years ahead on the next big thing.
"STX just launched our new ice hockey line recently, so that's a big push for us. We're always working on lacrosse gear. The heart and soul of this company is lacrosse so we're working on our 2016 line, our 2017 line even our 2018 line. We're already starting to work on some of those things, " Schmittdiel said.
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