It’s been building ever since Bauer debuted their five-layer C.O.R.TECH skin in the Supreme 1S OD1N in 2016, and goalies noted gleefully one of the layers was for digital printing.
We’ve since seen examples of the power of Bauer’s Digi-Print technology on NHL goaltenders like Henrik Lundqvist with his stylish New York Rangers design, Linus Ullmark’s Buffalo Sabres pads, a personalized pattern for Devan Dubnyk, retro sets for Frederik Andersen and Mike McKenna, and perhaps even more creatively and boldly on younger goalies in major junior and at the World Junior Championships, including Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro.
Now it’s here for you and me and anyone else who wants to show off some style: Bauer True Design, a chance to create seemingly unlimited custom graphics on your pads and gloves.
The process behind True Design allows for a digital-based image to be printed directly onto the surface of Bauer’s pads and gloves. It is then coated to protect the image so it will not fade or deteriorate over time, providing next-level custom without additional materials or weight.
So how will it work? Think of it similar to designing a custom mask paint job.
Goalies will start by filling out a blank Bauer Sketch Sheet for either Vapor 2X Pro or Supreme 2S Pro, with the chance to draw graphics and placement and choose preferred colors for the pads, blocker and glove, as well as including any notes to the designer. That sheet is submitted to an approved retailer, who then sends it to Bauer’s creative team, which includes the same people working on pads for Lundqvist and all the above-mentioned goalies. The design team turns the artwork around within 24 to 72 hours, and sends it for approval by the goalie. If the goalie wants some changes, they can request them, with a maximum of three iterations in this process. If it’s good to go, the retailer sends approval back to the design team, which finalizes the files required for production, and 12 weeks later the goalie should have their pad.
There is an upcharge for True Design, as there is for any custom graphic. There are also rules regarding copyright and offensive images or words. Designing a custom pad is a process, one that in many ways is even more complicated than custom mask paint, and must be applied properly to ensure the final product matches the intended design. You can’t just pull a three-inch, low-resolution logo off the internet and expect it to reproduce perfectly across a 36-inch tall pad. Images must be converted to the proper formats, colors to the proper Pantone codes, and printable areas blended with non-printable areas. In some cases, it’s simply a matter of the experience to know how it will look when it’s done, something Ullmark found out first hand when he used an outside source for his first attempt at creating a Buffalo Sabres pad.
“I contacted a guy on Instagram and he helped me come up with an initial design that I really liked with the buffalo, but when I sent it to Bauer, the guy said ‘we ran into a little issue, whenever the pad is down on the ice (in a butterfly), the buffalo is dead,” Ullmark said with a chuckle. “It was on its back. I agreed that wasn’t the way to go, so they came up with something similar with the stripes and the buffalo. They just moved it and I like these ones the best.”